I am being spoiled by Spain at the moment. Hot on the heels of yesterdays fabulous Vega Sicilia tasting, today was a chance to try through a wide range of the fabulous Equipo Navazos sherries with Jesús Barquín, one of the original partners in the venture.
Equipo Navazos started out as a group of friends who wanted to drink top quality sherries. They persuaded bodegas to let them bottle special casks: the original intention was for this to be small scale and private. ‘We wanted to have bottles for ourselves,’ says Jesus. But they realized that there was potential in the project, so when they started out with the first commercial wine, an amontillado, they gave it a number – 1. Each release has been numbered subsequently, and each wine has a different label.
In 2007 they made 7000 bottles; today, production is at 40 o0o bottles. ‘Each year we have been growing,’ says Jesus, ‘but we have no serious plans. We don’t depend on this for a living.’ It is perhaps for this reason that the project has remained remarkably pure and focused, and the wines so great.
As well as sherries, they have begun making table wines and Cava, in partnerships (Dirk Niepoort and Perez Barquero for table wines and Colet for Cava). These are all excellent, innovative products.
Today’s tasting was extensive, and included a preview of some future releases. Highlights included the fabulous Navazos Niepoort white 2008, which is developing beautifully, the Palo Cortados 34 and 21, the Amontillados 37 and 31, and the Manzanilla Pasadas 39 and 40. But pretty much everything they make is compelling. These are truly world class, fine wines, and it’s so good to see sherry being put on the map again.
They are expensive wines, it is true. But they are worth it. Their high cost is unfortunately emphasized by the fact that sherry is generally undervalued. But these are some of the great experiences of the wine world and Spain should be proud of them.