Sanlucar de Barrameda, a historic coastal town in Andalusia, is home to the refreshing sea-scented Manzanilla Sherry. Often even lighter and drier than the average high-end sherry from the Andalusia region of Spain and is therefore also called the Lady of sherry wines. Manzanilla is a dry white wine made from the palomino grape and aged under a yeast layer; also called "flor". It is produced exclusively in Sanlucar de Barrameda. The special microclimate of the city, situated at the mouth of the river Guadalquivir, stimulates the formation of the so-called flor, which gives the wine its unique distinctive characteristics.
Geographically, the D.O. "Manzanilla — Sanlúcar de Barrameda" within the D.O. "Jerez-Xérès-Sherry" and shares with the latter both the production area and the supervision by the same Supervisory Board. Both the grape used and the production processes are the same as for sherry.
However, there is one aspect that gives these wines their own identity: the maturation with a yeast layer in the special microclimate of Sanlúcar. Three main elements create this special climate in Sanlúcar, combined with the relief structure of the town, formed by two terraced slopes at different levels: one at sea level — the Barrio Bajo — and one a few meters above - the Barrio Alto.
Those elements are the Guadalquivir which forms the natural northern border of Sanlúcar; the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds the city to the west and into which the Guadalquivir flows; and the marshland (Marismas), a vast plain that covers the former delta and is completely flat. These three elements provide milder temperatures and higher relative humidity compared to the rest of the sherry production area. The transmitter of this moisture is the sea breeze; the westerly wind that collides with the barrier of the Barrio Alto and thus slows down and thereby moves the humidity towards the city center of Sanlúcar.
The confluence of all these conditions creates the specificity of the yeast layer of Sanlúcar and also determines the special organoleptic characteristics of the organically grown wines from the local bodegas.
Depending on the length of maturation, originally "dry" Manzanilla wines may show slight tinges of oxidation as the flor, after years of maturation, becomes exhausted in the oldest criaderas ("clases" in Sanlúcar jargon). This is how this extremely special wine is created, with a character that fluctuates between dry Manzanilla and Amontillado, which is called "Manzanilla Pasada".
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