These Lustau sherries are only released once per year when cellar master Sergio Martínez draws on his 14 years experience to select only the very best casks of biologically aged sherries and bottles them straight from the cask, raw and unfiltered, or ‘En Rama’ as this process is referred to. Timing is key and Lustau is uncompromising in their commitment to quality, refusing to bottle En Rama Sherry until it is ready. April is when the flor is at its thickest, following optimal growing conditions during the humid, cool winter months and a sufficiently wet spring.
The En Rama experience can be likened to tasting Sherry directly from the cask in the cathedral-like surroundings of Lustau’s standout bodegas. The lack of fining and filtration keeps the tasting experience authentic and allows you to experience fino Sherry at its absolute freshest and best. Whilst En Rama Sherry is intended to be enjoyed as fresh as possible, it can be kept for months, the salty delicacy will simply slowly give way to nuttier flavours.
Lustau is unique in that they release not one but three different En Rama Sherries; Fino de Jerez En Rama, Fino del Puerto En Rama and Manzanilla de Sanlúcar En Rama. As the only house to make Sherry in all three towns of the Sherry triangle – Jerez, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda – it gives us a rare opportunity to observe the unique differences in the local microclimates of these areas.
Jerez de la Frontera is the town furthest from the sea and here the conditions are less humid than in El Puerto or Sanlúcar. Humidity is important to the production of ‘flor’, the yeast that grows on the surface of biologically aged Sherry as it ages in old wooden casks; it protects the wine from contact with oxygen. Flor also imparts salty, yeasty, nutty flavours to the Sherry. Flor can be fickle, it likes very specific growing conditions and those include high humidity as well as a very particular alcohol range of around 15 – 15.5%.
Even within individual bodegas, the taste can differ from cask to cask simply based on its location, or how high it is off the ground. Casks situated in the middle of the bodega see more homogenous flor growth than those nearer to drafty windows, for instance.
The lower humidity of Jerez results in a thinner veil of flor and as such less delicate but nuttier flavours. Jerez Finos are therefore the most full-flavoured and rounded of the biologically-aged Sherries.