Sacristia AB Manzanilla
When Antonio Barbadillo left the family winery in 2008 to pursue his vision of making a classic style of complex, aged Manzanilla, everyone thought he was loco. But Antonio, along with his wife and four sons, knew that unfiltered, aged wines were the noble investment of Sanlúcar and he wanted to push the limits of what people envisioned of this mysterious, fragile and beloved biologically aged wine. Previously, Manzanilla Sacristía AB was sourced from 32 butts within an 80-butt solera at Bodegas Sanchez Ayala (where the Manzanillas of Equipo Navazos’ La Bota got their fame), the largest independent bottler of sherry. Sacristía is bottled in miniscule sacas, usually two a year and always completely en rama to ensure a maximum and pure expression of flor development and aromatics. As of the Primera Saca of 2014, this base wine has been sourced from sleeping Manzanilla treasures that lie beneath a thick layer of flor in Bodegas Yusta, a dusty old cellar in the backroads of Sanlúcar. In search of the perfect balance for the Sacristia style he has in mind, Antonio tastes wines from a variety of top producers from the most important Pagos and multiple criaderas before selecting his favorites for each bottling.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? The man behind these magic is Antonio Barbadillo of the historical Sanluqeno winery, Barbadillo. This delicious Manzanilla is from an area called Las Canas, which is located within Pago Balbaína. The wines of Sacristia are the true definition of an 'en rama' Manzanilla with zero filtration, even just before bottling. Nada! This 10 year old Manzanilla has a thick and healthy flor from multiple criaderas.
RATING HISTORY: 2017 94 W&S, 93W&S'Year's Best Fino & Manzanilla"; 91+WA
GRAPE: 100% Palomino from Las Canas, within the Pago Balbaina. Tended in albariza soil.
PRODUCTION: 800 cases (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The historical fishing port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda is situated within the northern province of Cádiz where the mouth of the Guadalquivir River flowing from Jaén, empties out into the Gulf of Cádiz and Atlantic Ocean on the southwestern coast of sunny Andalucía, Spain. The Albariza soil here is predominately pure white, calcium rich chalk that endures the hot, arid summers of southern Spain by baking a crust atop the sunshine drenched vineyards, preserving winter´s moisture below for hydration of the vines. The altitudes in this flat, coastal region range from 200 to 400 feet. The temperatures in Sanlúcar de Barrameda are cooler than in Jerez de la Frontera and very desirable. With averages highs of 22C (72F) and lows of 13C (56F), there are nearly an impressive 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and the summers are glorious. Most of the 584 mm (23 in) of annual rainfall occurs from September through December. This region’s unique orientation and proximity to the seas offers incredible humidity and direct exposure to the desirable Poniente wind that captures the cool humidity necessary to feed the vigorous flor. Flor is a veil of Saccharomyces yeasts that forms atop biologically aged Sherries that is especially healthy in the coastal region Sanlúcar, hence it’s exclusivity to the sacred Manzanilla name.
TASTING NOTES: This is a serious Manzanilla bottled at around seven or eight years under flor. In all releases since 2010, it's interesting to note the evolution of the wines in bottle as they take aromas of curry, sweet spices, cumin, quince, apricots and caramel (similar to what you may find in a low alcohol Amontillado).