Equipo Navazos

Beyond Sherry—The Stunning La Bota Sherries & More

It’s been fifteen years since Eduardo Ojeda and Jesús Barquín burst onto the scene with their limited edition, “mind-blowing” [Jamie Goode] La Bota series. Sourced from the region’s rarest, most significant (and hitherto neglected) solera systems, Equipo Navazos swiftly became the cult producer for quality Sherry lovers, knowledgeable sommeliers and indie retailers worldwide.

Barquín is one of Spain’s leading experts and writers on Sherry, while Ojeda, one of Jerez’s leading tasters and blenders, is the technical director for the Estévez group, owners of Valdespino and La Guita Manzanilla. What these two do not know about Sherry is probably not worth knowing. The origins of the project date to late 2005, Ojeda and Barquín were tasting through some 400 casks of Manzanilla at the bodega of Sánchez Ayala in Sanlucar. As Andrew Jefford (The Coming of Jesús, Decanter) recounts in his story, one particular wine sparked the project we love so much today.

“After they had cantered through the Manzanillas, they started tasting other things in the cellar and discovered a ‘shrinking’ Amontillado solera which had been untouched and unrefreshed for 20 years. “The casks were beautiful,” Barquín remembers. “But since there was no market for Amontillado, the owner had instructed that instead of refreshing the angel’s share, the solera should be topped up from existing stocks, so the original 74 casks were now 69 or 65, I can’t remember.” Forty years of crisis had left Jerez and Sanlúcar littered with treasures of this sort. That was when the idea dawned on Barquín: why not buy a cask? He and Ojeda could then sell the bottles to their friends.”

Guided by their vast knowledge and unparalleled contacts, Navazos has assembled arguably the finest offering of Sherries in the market, while also promoting the great historical and cultural traditions that lie behind Sherry and the Jerez region

Since that first cask of Amontillado—named simply Bota de Amontillado No.1 after the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’—each successive, limited-edition bottling has been numbered accordingly and bottled En Rama: straight from the cask. The wines are selected for sheer quality as well as their distinct personalities. Initially, these bottlings were intended only for a select group of friends and professionals, but the response to the wines was so enthusiastic that it became evident that something important could, and should, come of this idea—namely, Equipo Navazos could remind the world just how great Sherry could be.

Guided by their vast knowledge and unparalleled contacts, Navazos has gone on to assemble arguably the finest offering of Sherries in the market, while also promoting the great historical and cultural traditions that lie behind Sherry and the Jerez region. These are all one-off bottlings, and once the bottles for each La Bota release are spoken for, there are no more. Our allocations remain very small and most often sell out before general release.

Thankfully, the Navazos story does not end with the hard-to-source La Bota wines. In consultation with a small core of importers (including Bibendum Wine Co.) Navazos also bottles a trio of more accessible yet still unfiltered En Rama sherries under the Equipo Navazos label. ‘I Think’ is a wonderfully potent and briny Manzanilla from the La Guita stable; the Fino ‘En Rama’ is drawn from a gold-standard solera and includes fruit from the ‘Montrachet’ of Jerez—Macharnudo Alto; and the Gran Solera is a stunning Jerezano style P.X. aged for over 25 years. These are shipped freshly bottled, in more significant quantities and positioned at more accessible pricing. Also remarkable is Navazos’ white wine project, inspired by a period in Andalucían wine history before fortification was the norm.

Finally, for some time now Navazos has turned its attention to sourcing some extraordinary examples of Spanish spirits in collaboration with New York spirits guru Nicolas Palazzi. The unique range of La Bota Whiskey, Rum, Brandy and Gin stem at least in part from this fertile collaboration. Most are single-cask and have spent much of their lives aging in large Sherry bota in Jerez de la Frontera.

The Range

Equipo Navazos La Bota 43 Brandy
Bibendum Bar
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 43 Brandy

Bottled in 2013. This stunning spirit is the follow-up bottling to La Bota No. 29 and the second of three barrels to be bottled two years apart. The age of the liquid at bottling was 13 years, with the last three years of aging undertaken in an old Manzanilla cask of Rey Fernando de Castilla in El Puerto de Santa María. This edition is from a single cask and the totality of the butt has been bottled, so that each of the 500ml bottles is indeed a jewel of limited production and availability, and strictly unrepeatable.Like its predecessor, this must be tasted to be believed. So floral, so pure, so complex and so intense, this is a spirit that will amaze (and possibly trouble!) even the finest Cognac producers. Compared to its sibling No. 29, edition number 43 is two years older. Its finesse is evident in a side-by-side comparison—it’s more harmonious and less marked by fruit presence (however, if tasted next to the best Brandy de Jerez of other producers, both 29 and 43 share a remarkable degree of sophistication as opposed to spirits with traditionally enhanced sweetness and intensity).

Like its predecessor, this must be tasted to be believed. So floral, so pure, so complex and so intense, this is a spirit that will amaze (and possibly trouble!) even the finest Cognac producers. Compared to its sibling No. 29, edition number 43 is two years older. Its finesse is evident in a side-by-side comparison—it’s more harmonious and less marked by fruit presence (however, if tasted next to the best Brandy de Jerez of other producers, both 29 and 43 share a remarkable degree of sophistication as opposed to spirits with traditionally enhanced sweetness and intensity).

Equipo Navazos La Bota 43 Brandy
Bibendum Bar
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 117 Amontillado Navazos
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 117 Amontillado Navazos

Saca de October 2022. This iconic bottling can trace its ancestry right back to the first ever La Bota wine: La Bota de Amontillado No.1. Since that time, we have been regaled by those Sanlúcar wines numbered 9, 37, 58 and 95. This time there is a new source. Barquín explains that for La Bota 117, they travelled from Sanlúcar to Montilla—"looking for something new and because we had to take advantage of the opportunity of a spectacularly fine and lively Amontillado, delicious, fluid and at the same time with much character.”Sourced from the venerable Bodega of Pérez Barquero, it is a wine of more than 20 years of age from Altos de Moriles. The solera started life as a Fino and during its first oxidative stage in a prestigious winery in Lucena. This was followed by its definitive period of aging at the Bodega of Pérez Barquero. In the Montilla tradition, the wine has never been fortified, and its alcohol content clocks in below 18% which contributes to its freshness on the palate.It’s a wonderfully gastronomic wine that harmonises with a wide variety of dishes, as well as being a delicious glass in itself. It is best enjoyed in a large white wine glass at around 11ºC and 13ºC. An excellent aperitif, it also works beautifully with powerful meat-based entrées and is also a surprisingly good accompaniment to spicy Asian food and, of course, a wide variety of cheeses (both hard and soft). 

“The NV La Bota de Amontillado Montilla 117 is a new Amontillado from Montilla-Moriles that was never bottled before. Selected from the cellars of Pérez-Barquero, the wine is between 25 to 30 years of average age, not fortified but bottled at 20% alcohol from pure concentration from evaporation, as the Fino that is the base for this wine was never fortified, which is the tradition in Montilla. It's a medium-age Amontillado with textbook characteristics and the evolution of the Fino Amontillado but with some 10 to 12 years more. It's nutty, pungent, intense and sapid, with a saline, iodine twist.”
96 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Equipo Navazos La Bota 117 Amontillado Navazos
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 116 De Oloroso Montilla
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 116 De Oloroso Montilla

Saca de October 2022. Co-owner, Rafael Cordoba, has been caring for his vineyards and cellar for decades and is considered a master at obtaining truly outstanding musts, both yema (first press) and colour (second press). It’s with these second press musts, locally called “vino de color”, that Pérez Barquero’s winemaker, Juan Márquez, uses to produce his Olorosos. No. 116 La Bota de Oloroso “Montilla” comes from a selection of casks from the Solera Diógenes, located in the third row at the Pérez Barquero’s Bodega El Puente. The main difference from the No. 74 is that this time, all the casks selected belong to the solera itself, while for the previous release, Navazos picked some vessels from younger criaderas as well. This fact, together with the elapsed time and the fact that the withdrawals from these casks have been small, explains why this wine is almost five years older than its predecessor. Its estimated average age is, therefore, close to 35 years! 

“The NV La Bota de Oloroso 116 Montilla follows the wines numbered 74 and 46, from four barrels they selected. It's another textbook example of the category, perhaps a little drier and more vertical, with Pedro Ximenez aromas and hints of peaches, varnish and hazelnuts. It comes from a solera of Pedro Ximénez wines from the cellars of Pérez-Barquero in Montilla that has been aged oxidatively for an average of 30 years. I find finesse, velvet and glycerin in this wine, which makes it closer to the character of a Palo Cortado. This summer 2022 bottling is 3,000 bottles.”
94 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Equipo Navazos La Bota 116 De Oloroso Montilla
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 90 Mazanilla Pasada Capataz Cabo
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 90 Mazanilla Pasada Capataz Cabo

This prodigious Manzanilla had never been bottled until Equipo Navazos selected it in 2008 for its 10th La Bota release. This was followed two years later by No. 20 Bota Punta. This is surely one of the most complex and flat-out delicious dry sherries that exist in the world today (in bottle at least). Over the last decade, under the direction of Navazos’ Eduardo Ojeda, this solera of just 15 casks has been carefully managed by Capataz Cabo, one of the region’s great cellarmasters and whose work is now commemorated on the label. This bottling has an average age of around 14 years and is a wine of singular and intense biological character (powerful steely notes of salinity on the palate). There are two keys to unlocking the style and quality here. Firstly, the lion’s share of the Palomino has come from Sanlúcar’s de-facto Grand Cru pago Miraflores. Then, like the Bota 59, the butts were filled through the maturation process—almost up to a tocadedos. Therefore, this Manzanilla offers some elegant and very subtle oxidative complexity that is not at all typical. This also increases the alcohol slightly to about 16.5%. The result is an incredibly fine, complex and powerful wine of balanced freshness, intense salinity and gentle oxidative notes. Truly unique and stunningly versatile on the dinner table, it matches a wide variety of foods, from rich fish dishes and charcuterie to scrambled eggs with porcini or runny sheep’s cheese. Best served around 12ºC in proper wine glasses.

“... the extraordinary NV La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada 90 Capataz Cabo, a wine that comes from a solera filled with wine from Sanlúcar, mostly from the Pago Miraflores, that averages ten years under flor and a further five years topped up. This is a blend of different casks, as it was done in editions 10, 30 and 59. These wines are bottled in 750-milliliter bottles, which is different from the single-cask ones, which are put in half-liter bottles. This is nuttier than the regular Manzanilla and even nuttier than the majority of Manzanilla Pasada, keeping the saline and marine character, hints of iodine and low tide, but also something floral and more ethereal. The palate is super expressive and explosive, pungent and nuanced, with very pure and long-lasting flavors. Really impressive. It should be bottled by the time this report comes out. This is truly impressive and should make a monumental wine. 2,500 bottles to be produced.”
96-97 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
Equipo Navazos La Bota 90 Mazanilla Pasada Capataz Cabo
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 115 de Fino
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 115 de Fino

Saca de August 2022. This stunning Fino comes from the Macharnudo Alto (the ‘Grand Cru’ parcel within Jerez’s legendary Macharnudo vineyard) and was drawn from Valdespino’s Inocente solera. This will need no introduction to Navazos fans, as it is the same solera and single vineyard that brought you the fabled La Bota numbers 2, 7, 15, 18, 27, 35, 54, 68 and 91.  Of course, this is a single vineyard wine (extremely rare in the world of Fino these days) from one of the four great pagos that lie to the north and west of Jerez. Dubbed the ‘Montrachet of Jerez’, the albariza chalk here—called Tosca de Barajuelas—results in low yields of thick-skinned grapes and a particularly fine, chalky, saline and structured Palomino. Macharnudo Alto is the most celebrated part of the vineyard, the parcel with the highest altitude and the one considered to have the purest albariza soils. This time around, it’s a selection from the solera: the oldest casks for complexity; and the second criadera for freshness. This bottling was also blended with some younger criaderas from the Macharnudo Alto estate. Eduardo Ojeda (the Master) explains, “We are looking for particular finesse and freshness in this saca. The wine is now more fluid and fresher than in previous editions, without in any case losing its authenticity.” Its average age is close to eight years, so a couple of years less than the previous bottlings. Food? Oysters, olives, anchovies, salted almonds, whitebait, charcuterie, school prawns, hard cheese, etc. In fact, drink it with whatever you like but with the aforementioned foods you will be in heaven! 

“The NV La Bota de Fino 115 is still 100% from Macharnudo Alto, and they are trying to make a slightly more fluid wine, not like a Fino Amontillado, which was the case with some bottlings coming from the selection of very old soleras. It's slightly different from the previous edition, number 91; this is slightly younger, between seven and eight years of age, but it keeps the same style, just a little more approachable. It's still an old Fino, with notes of esparto grass and volume in the palate. 6,000 bottles produced. This was bottled in August 2022 in 0.75-liter bottles.”
95 points, Luis Gutiérrez, The Wine Advocate
“Bottled a few days ago. From the Machurnado vineyard. They have decreased the average age by a couple of years so it’s seven or eight years on average and the wine is more refreshing and not so uncomfortably concentrated. Firmer and nuttier than I Think Manzanilla with real tang and bite. Hint of molten dry treacle. Real grip. Neat and convincing. Not yet open – needs a couple of months.”
16.5++ points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com
Equipo Navazos La Bota 115 de Fino
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 111 Manzanilla Florpower MMXVIII
Equipo Navazos La Bota 111 Manzanilla Florpower MMXVIII
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Equipo Navazos La Bota 111 Manzanilla Florpower MMXVIII

Screwcap. Put simply, this exciting new bottling is a young, single vintage and single vineyard Manzanilla. The Florpower reference refers to the unfortified base wine, La Bota de Florpower 97 from 2018, which was lightly fortified to 15% after a year under flor. The wine was then aged in Sanlúcar de Barrameda for almost three years following the traditional biological system. Of course, like all the “Florpower” wines, this wine originates from Palomino Fino sourced from vines aged 55 and 85 years old in the “blessed plot” of La Baja in the Pago Miraflores. Get in!

“The first fortified wine, technically a sherry, in this line-up. Single vineyard, Miraflores. The base wine was Florpower 2018 (La Bota 97), fortified to make it a manzanilla. So it’s basically the same wine as Florpower. Bottled 2022 after three years under flor. Old vines again. No solera. Quite a rich nose! Toast and green notes and great acidity. Really exciting wine – an expression of a single vintage and a single vineyard.”
17.5 points, Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com
Equipo Navazos La Bota 111 Manzanilla Florpower MMXVIII
Equipo Navazos La Bota 111 Manzanilla Florpower MMXVIII
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“The wines by Equipo Navazos are a cultural contribution of the highest importance.” Juancho Asenjo, “La Sobremesa” at www.elmundovino.com

“Equipo Navazos make mindblowing Sherries. I’m drinking one at the moment, and it’s a life-enhancing experience.” Jamie Goode, www.wineanorak.com

“They are not cheap. But then nor is Grand Cru burgundy.” Jancis Robinson MW, Sherry as Montrachet – revelations. jancisrobinson.com

“Every wine region needs a few extraordinary individuals to champion its cause, and Barquín is one.” Andrew Jefford, Decanter

Country

Spain

Primary Region

Jerez, Andalucía

People

Owners: Eduardo Ojeda and Jesús Barquín

Availability

National

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