n.v. Bodegas La Cigarrera, Manzanilla Dry Sherry, D.O. Manzanilla Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain.
One of my favorite sipping dry Sherry bottlings is La Cigarrera’s brisk and salty Manzanilla from the Sanlucar de Barrameda zone, its intensity makes it great with tapas, Spanish ham and briny treats, more complex than a Fino and lighter and racier than the oily/nutty and creamier medium dry styles, like Oloroso and Amontillado, with less alcohol too, making it more refreshing. The light gold hued with delicate amber tint La Cigarrera Manzanilla starts with sea shore and pecan aromas and the brisk palate is mouth watering with burnt orange, chamomile, dried apricot, peanut, saline, mineral and lemon oil. The oxidative nuttiness is tamed by the sharp acidity, this a blessing and a curse, as unfamiliar to Sherry drinkers with get a huge shock, because of the austere and severe nature of this Manzanilla, but those you know what to expect will get a thrill and have the right food pairing handy to best enjoy its vibrant personality. It takes study and diligence to understand and appreciate Sherry for its unique taste, winemaking and terroir, and though I don’t drink it often I love exploring it, from Fino, in particular Equipo Navazos, to the exceptional and sweet Pedro Ximenez or P.X., especially by Alvear, along with the classic Oloroso and Amontillado, with Lustau being a top choice, these are without question incredible versions to discover.
The star Manzanillas include La Gitana (Hidalgo), La Guita (Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin) and Solear (Barbadillo) as well as this La Cigarrera, and they are all 100% Palomino which are aged entirely under a layer of flor yeast, this biologically aging process restricts the oxidation and keeps things less oily/nutty in flavors and the close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean allows a cooler storage and more saline infused influence. The thicker the layer of flor the more it protects from air contact, this results in a slightly lighter variety of Sherry, containing virtually no glycerol (cream or textural richness) and instead combines for dry, saline notes with a fresh, zesty liveliness. Manzanilla, as mentioned is very intense, typically displaying more coastal aromas than a Fino, like sea spray, salt , kelp or even iodine notes, like this one shows. Like Fino, Manzanilla Sherries are from grapes grown on chalky and sanding soils and is produced in a Solera system of aged wines that have all developed a strong flor, which are blended, but most top Manzanilla’s are younger with an average of 3 to 7 years of age. Imported by De Maison Selections, this La Cigarrera, is a Sherry to be enjoyed as fresh and as young as possible, it is certainly better in the first 12 months after release, this one was from a 2018 batch, near the end of best by date, so be sure to check dates on the back label. Enjoy with Marcona almonds, sheep hard cheeses, spicy sardines in oil and or white anchovies, and have Happy Sherry Week 2019!
($15 Est. 375ml-Half Bottle) 90 Points, grapelive