Equipo Navazos makes sherry trendy again. Jesús Barquín is a prophet and he believes in sherry. Under the name Equipo Navazos, he and his close friend Eduardo Ojeda are responsible for a recent - albeit modest - revival of attention to sherry. Recently he was in Amsterdam to spread his happy message. We listened and tasted with him. Every time Jesús Barquín has to explain again how and especially why he got so addicted to sherry. He is a professor at the University of Granada in the field of criminology. Besides his work, he is a great wine lover and he writes about wine. For example, he co-authored the book about Rioja that appeared in the prestigious series The Finest Wines of… and last year a book by him and Peter Liem about sherry was published. He is therefore a connoisseur and lover of Spanish wines in general and sherry in particular.
The first barrel
In Andalusia, its residential area, Jesús Barquín regularly visits the cellars where the barrels of sherry are kept. During one of those visits in 2005, he tastes an older amontillado from a certain barrel that he clearly likes better than the same wine from other barrels. That barrel has to be emptied soon to store new wine, the owner says. Jesús then decides to approach a number of wine friends with the proposal to buy the barrel and bottle the contents themselves for private use. The label of this first bottling under the name La Bota de Amontillado no.1 stated in large letters not for sale.
Barquín not only makes his about forty wine friends very happy with it, he also draws the attention of writing colleagues at home and abroad. Jesús: “The first bottling was purely for private use. We did not want to compete with the existing wine trade. But when a second bottling also received a lot of publicity, we decided in consultation with producers and traders to offer the sherries we selected for sale. That benefits the entire sherry business. ”
The wines selected by Jesús and Eduardo are marketed under the name Equipo Navazos. In addition to a name, each new bottling also receives a number. But what is most striking: the bottles are flying out the door! And that for sherry, a wine that has been in the dark for years with a gigantic image problem. Why are the wines of Equipo Navazo so very hip and popular? Jesús: “Because they are so good. We bottle the best the sherry area has to offer. Many people think that we are only treasure hunters, treasure hunters who know their way around the warehouses of small and large sherry houses and select the treasures to bottle there. But that is not true. Or rather: no longer true. Indeed, we only select what we find interesting, but then we treat the wine in our own way: we bottle it straight from the barrel, with as little filtration as possible, for example. That is very important for the taste. Our fino can therefore also be much more yellow than usual.
Moreover, we are currently also in the middle of the process of making our own wine from purchased grapes. Our wines range from a sparkling wine and a Florpower - un fortified 'sherry' of 100% palomino fino - to our own version of the PX. ” When making wine yourself, Jesús benefits greatly from the input of Eduardo Ojeda. He is production director at Grupo Estévez, which includes the bodegas La Guita in Sanlúcar and Valdespino in Jerez.
The Florpower 2010 is one of the last releases and is already completely sold out, says Barquín proudly, but fortunately he brought a few bottles for this tasting. Limited availability is one of the secrets of Equipo Navazos' success; each edition contains only 3 to 6 thousand bottles. The stuff is almost impossible to get and that makes many wine lovers worldwide very greedy.
Incidentally, the idea to release a non-fortified sherry does not come from Equipo Navazos himself, but from another wine celebrity: Dirk van der Niepoort. He came to Andalusia to make the first edition of the Navazos Niepoort in 2008. A wine made according to the classic method - in large, not quite full barrels, so that the flor has the opportunity to grow - but without adding alcohol. The idea that an alcohol percentage of 15% is necessary for the flor to thrive is dismissed by Jesús as nonsensical. Old books show that fortifying the wine was only applied much later.
The low-alcoholic Niepoort Navazos turned out to be a fresh, crispy sherry with a lot of character and quickly became popular. Why then a second non-fortified wine under the name Florpower? Jesús: “This is called spreading risk. Due to an unexpected temperature change in the summer of 2009, the flor suddenly disappeared and the wrong bacteria got the upper hand. We were able to use only ten of the forty barrels of young wine. In 2010 we chose to make a part according to the 'Niepoort method', with grapes from Jerez and a fermentation and long stay in barrels, and another part in a new way. The Florpower comes from grapes from Sanlúcar de Barrameda and of the 32 months that it has been under the flor it has only 8 on barrel. The rest of the time it matures on stainless steel tanks. They have become two wines that are so different that it is justified to release them side by side. ”
Is what Equipo Navazos only creating a lot of fuss about? In other words: is the old wine in new bottles, or is the hype justified? The latter is certainly the case. What they bring is really the crème de la crème of what the sherry area has to offer. We may have to admit that we hardly remember what top wines from this area can taste like. Taste a La Bota 42 Manzanilla or a La Bota 37 Amontillado and try to remember which wine comes close to these two wines in complexity and taste finesse. Then you automatically come up with wines with a world reputation.
A note about the prices. Indeed, Equipo Navazos wines are not cheap. A quote from Jancis Roberson in this regard: 'They are not cheap. But then nor is Grand Cru Burgundy. " In other words, it is just what you compare them to. In the top wine category they are still cheap!