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 new bottling many of us wait for every ten editions is now here in the shape of the NV La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada 80 Bota Punta. It's bottled at 16.5% alcohol at an estimated average age of 15 years, the first ten years under flor and the subsequent five with the barrels fully topped up, following an oxidative (normal) aging. This is always a stratospheric wine, taken from the same few barrels—in this case the last one, the "bota punta"—and the character is similar with only small nuances. It was previously offered, from the very same cask, with the editions 20, 40, 50 and 60. This is still quite shy on the nose, but the palate is an explosion of concentration, flavors and minerality. It's still quite biological, with the effect of the oxidation very subtle. The empty glass had amazing aromas of dried leaves, petrol, esparto and cheese rind. This should develop nicely in bottle. The benchmark Bota 30 from June 2011 is still going strong. Only 950 half-liter bottles produced.