Lustau Amontillado de Sanlúcar Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado 1/21
It has been a while since I featured anything other than Bordeaux or the Loire Valley in my Weekend Wine slot, and perhaps even longer since the featured wine hailed from what are arguably Spain’s most famous vineyards, those of the ‘Sherry Triangle’ between Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria. Nor have I reported on any Madeira or Port recently. The (worryingly high) record-breaking summer temperatures we have been experiencing in Europe this year haven’t exactly set the mood for drinking richly fortified and similar styles.
That is something I will have to put right over the coming (hopefully cooler) months, but right now we are off – vicariously – to Spain, and to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the home of Manzanilla. Whereas the (perhaps) better-known Jerez de la Frontera sits slightly inland, the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda is positioned right on Spain’s south-west coast, looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. The town’s historical significance as a port – it was a starting point for many sailings to the New World, from the 15th century onwards – naturally favoured its development as a wine town.
This coastal position makes a difference; while the vineyards of the Manzanilla denominación de origen (DO), defined in 1933, cover exactly the same area as those for the Jerez DO, the environmental conditions here on the coast have an impact on how wines aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda develop. The slightly cooler and more humid conditions are said to be more favourable for the development and year-round persistence of flor, creating a slightly fresher and more salty style of wine.
Lustau has long used smaller almacenistas for the production of its sherries, and this wine is a typical example of this philosophy. The almacenista in question, Manuel Cuevas Jurado, runs an amontillado solera comprising 21 casks in his bodega, which is located just a short walk from the waters of the Atlantic. Lustau, by the way, also take his Manzanilla Pasada.
The Lustau Amontillado de Sanlúcar Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado 1/21 Is aged in the traditional Manzanilla style, under its protective flor, for the first five or six years of its life. Once the flor has given up the good fight, the wine is more exposed to the air, and it then ages oxidatively, passing through the 21-cask solera system as it does so. This aging process typically takes another six or seven years, after which it is bottled in a 50 cl format.
In the glass the Lustau Amontillado de Sanlúcar Almacenista Manuel Cuevas Jurado 1/21 (and they say German wine labels are overly long and complicated) displays a toasted, golden-brown hue in the glass. It possesses such a lively nose, with hints of preserved lemon, green apple, green olive, sea salt and iodine, with touches of baked earth and toast, almost as a reflection of its shimmering hue. The palate feels very dry and bold, sinewy and salty, with a tense and tightly framed palate. This narrows down through the middle and end to a totally correct, integrated and almost silky composition on the finish, before it then broadens out on the length, with a rich, warming, smoky and toasted style. This is quite delicious, all in all a top example of Amontillado de Sanlúcar, with great persistence. I could happily drink more of this. The declared alcohol is 17.5%. 94/100 (12/9/22)