Manzanilla En Rama, 'Solear - Saca de Invierno 2012', Bodegas Barbadillo
While some take it as axiomatic that biologically-aged wines – especially those that have undergone only minimal filtration – should be drunk soon after bottling, the thinking on this subject has evolved considerably in the last few years. In this article on the Consejo Regulador’s official website, Ruben Luyten notes that the first releases of Tio Pepe En Rama carried an advisory on the label that the wine should be drunk within three months of release. Today, in contrast, González Byass is bottling a portion of the wine in magnum, the best format for extended cellaring.
As early as 2012, noted sherry experts Peter Liem and Jesús Barquín were extolling the virtues of bottle-aged finos and manzanillas. Here are their thoughts on the subject from Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla:
Conventional wisdom holds that finos and manzanillas should be drunk as quickly as possible after bottling, and that they will begin to deteriorate within in a matter of months. In truth, modern bottling techniques allow the wine to remain more stable in bottle today and, provided they have been properly shipped and stored, finos and manzanillas can retain their original character for up to 18 months.
On the other hand, maintaining the wine’s original character may not necessarily be the goal – and in fact, the authors of the book challenge the notion that fino and manzanilla do not improve with further aging after bottling. While we recognize that we are in the minority on this, contradicting even renowned sherry authorities, our experiences have led us to believe not only that the very finest biologically-aged sherries can improve with time in bottle, but that they often require it to show their best.
]Specifically on the subject of the seasonal saca from Barbadillo, Liem and Barquín write, “It is a rich, pungent style of manzanilla, full of complex, savory flavor and, contrary to conventional wisdom, it ages remarkably well in bottle – in fact, it often takes two or three years to reveal its full depth and range of aroma.”
Writing in the Wine Advocate in August of 2013, Luis Gutierrez says of this particular wine, “The NV Manzanilla En Rama Barbadillo Saca De Invierno 2012 shows a bright yellow color, almost florescent, and shows how these unfiltered Manzanillas can age in bottle. Even if the idea is to have frequent bottling trying to offer them as fresh as possible, they gain in complexity. Notes of almonds, olives, seaweed, hazelnuts and smoke complicate the nose, while the palate is very intense, complex and long with penetrating flavors and an extra-long finish. Keeping these bottles might sound weird, but a minority is already doing it. Drink 2013-2014.” Despite having posited a drinking window in his review that has long since passed, I am sure that Mr. Gutierrez would relish revisiting this wine today to see how beautifully it has evolved.
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