Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Zerej II Amontillado 19%, Barbadillo

Pure golden amber with bright golden highlights.
Beautiful. Almost exactly half and half Manzanilla and Amontillado. There are still distinct yeasty, bready biological ageing notes with hints of seaweed, butter and almond and then there is the weightier oxidative side with slightly more toasted hazelnut and almond and a trace of glyceric sweetness trying to convince you it is a fine light Amontillado. That is definitely where the wine is going, but it isn't there yet. A true Manzanilla Amontillada. It is fragrant, nuanced, clean, long and endlessly fascinating with a great deal of charm.
There is a certain tension between  the crisp Manzanilla and the rounder Amontillado, and it is neither full nor light. Either way, it does not hide its Sanlucar origins; there are gentle salty marine notes and a certain leanness. There is more glycerine than in a Manzanilla, giving it an attractive roundness without a hint of sweetness, and there is a gentle texture as well as perfect balance. Slight buttery, nutty notes add to the complexity and sheer finesse. Delicious.
Left to its own devices, this delightful wine would have become Amontillado Principe, but in its present intermediate state - Manzanilla Amontillada - it must legally be sold either as Manzanilla or Amontillado. At 19% it has already been fortified up and is technically more Amontillado than Manzanilla, but still retains lots of lovely Manzanilla character. It is at a beautiful stage. This wine began as Manzanilla Solear then went to the 307 butt intermediate solera between Solear and Amontillado Principe (the solera from which Barbadillo selects the Solear Pasada en rama) and then came from one butt in the Principe criaderas. It has an average age of about 9-10 years while Principe is sold at 12.
As this wine is one of a set of four magnums which cost 180 euros, there is no individual price. It might sound expensive but if you divide it up it averages at 22.50 per 75cl bottle, which means that this is exceptional value.

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