This is not a fortified wine!
Beginning in 2008, Equipo Navazos set out to craft an unfortified white wine following the same rigorous quality criteria employed by the best winemakers of the Bajo Guadalquivir some two centuries ago. To this end, they requested and received guidance from Portugal's Dirk Niepoort.
The 2015 had a little more time in vat than previous releases and the result is a wonderfully mineral, pure and translucent white. As such, it offers brilliant value.
The Equipo Navazos project was started by a group of Spanish Sherry lovers led by wine writer and Sherry guru Jesús Barquín, regular contributor to World of Fine Wine and Professor of Criminology at the University of Granada. These “Sherryphiles” were aware, through their own extensive tastings, of a treasure trove of brilliant Sherries that were sitting, unbottled, in the bodegas of Jerez, Sanlucar and Montilla. Bodegas often have butts or casks (bota) of Sherry whose small volume makes it commercially unviable to bottle separately. The concept behind Equipo Navazos (Team Navazos) was to select specific bota of such wines for individual bottling, unfiltered or lightly filtered (Sherry is typically put through a very firm filtration). The wines were selected for their quality and for their distinct personalities, which would have been a shame to lose in a large blend. Initially these bottlings were intended only for a select group of friends and professionals. Yet the response was so enthusiastic that it became very clear to those behind Equipo Navazos that something important could come of this idea; namely that the opportunity existed to remind the world of just how great Sherry could be. To this end the project was expanded to allow for a small ‘commercial’ release of certain wines to a handful of international markets. After three years, Australia started to get a tiny allocation.
The Navazos Sherries are drawn from several bodegas, and represent a variety of styles: Manzanilla, Fino, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez, Cream and even a brandy. The wines are bottled in limited series, in successive numbered editions, dated and named “La Bota de….” (the cask of…). The date of each saca, or racking, has been precisely stated on the label so that it is possible to compare editions of the same solera. This also enables precise tracking of the evolution of the wines, as these wines are expected to evolve in the bottle (it’s Sherry, but not as we know it). These are once off bottlings and once the bottles for each La Bota… release are spoken for, there are no more.
LUIS GUTIERREZ - WINE ADVOCATE
The latest vintage of the unfortified, flor-aged white from Jerez (aka Fino) is the 2015 Navazos-Niepoort. This is a collaboration with Portugal's Dirk Niepoort that started in 2008 and sparked interest for this style. It's produced with grapes from one single vineyard (Pago Macharnudo) from a normal year in the region, fermented in oak casks like yesteryear, aged under flor for 11 months and bottled bone dry at 12% alcohol. It's expressive and open and has certainly overcome the closed cycle it usually goes into after bottling, even with some pungent hints, getting a little closer to Florpower but with muscle and power. The palate is very tasty, with chalky minerality and a long finish. 4,000 bottles were filled in January 2017 after a little more time in vat, where the flor had a smaller influence.
Full yellow colour. Very oxidative bouquet of grilled hazelnuts with evident salty flor mineral notes. Dried fruits; fig jam. Quite oxidised. Very full-bodied, with tangy acidity which is slightly sour. A peculiar wine, reminiscent of some Jura white table wines made under flor.