The influence of Robert Parker on wine consumers around the world is beyond any doubt. Perhaps the Wine Advocate has fewer followers in Spain, but it has a legion of faithful followers in the US and Asia, two of the world’s most important markets for wine, and also for Sherry which has seen itself spurred on in the little more than a year since Luís Gutiérrez joined Parker as his taster for Spain, Argentina and Chile.
Luís finds it hard to conceal his devotion to the wines of Jerez and last year he consecrated two wines with 100 points: Barbadillo’s Reliquia and Valdespino’s Moscatel Toneles. This year another Sherry won 100 points: Equipo Navazos’ La Bota de Amontillado No. 49 Bota AR. There are very few old wines like this in the area and according to Jesús Barquín, co-founder with Eduardo Ojeda of Equipo Navazos, it is a wine that speaks of history, it is a piece of history which took decades and decades, generations and generations to achieve this level of quality.
|L-R: Jesus Barquin, Luis Gutierrez, Cesar Saldana (foto diario jerez)|
Of all the wines awarded 100 points in the latest edition of the Wine Advocate the La Bota No. 49 is the most affordable at about €75 per half bottle, and Jesús says that he had no doubt that such an exceptional wine would score 100. He does not say this to sell the wine which is already hard to find, but to point out that there are collectors who buy up all the 100 point wines leaving very few bottles available – and the guide has been out for a month already.
Another Equipo Navazos wine, La Bota de Palo Cortado No. 47 (from the same source as No. 49) and a wine from Bodegas Tradición achieved 99 points in the guide. This success extends to Sherry in general. No fewer than 75% of the over 60 Sherries tasted by Luís were awarded 90 points or more, qualifying them as “excellent”, and that doesn’t include some local table wines.
Emilio Hidalgo’s Palo Cortado Privilegio scored 98; five Williams & Humbert wines scored 90 or more: Pando, As You Like It, Oloroso Añada 2001 and the Fino en rama Añada 2006 and Oloroso Añada 1982 both scored 93. Jesús believes that the arrival of Luís was providential for Jerez as he has a much better understanding of the wines and they are now more prominent than before in the Wine Advocate.
The Parker tastings will be centred on new wines, that is to say small sacas, special releases or new vintage wines rather than the same old solera brands which have been in previous editions. César Saldaña, director of the Consejo underlined that the bodegas are no longer limiting themselves to marketing their solera brands as has been the case until recently. They have taken account of the limitations to innovation inherent in the solera system, and though it will naturally continue, many producers are seeking differentiation in which they see many opportunities. He sees this as the right road to take with limited special releases, añadas, seasonal sacas etcetera, giving new challenges to the marketing people.