An Ancient and Singular Relic: La Bota #33

Posted by Joe Salamone

An Ancient and Singular Relic
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Dulce #33

Equipo Navazos is known for unearthing stunning rarities from Jerez's bodegas. But their #33 may be their most inspired find.

It's a relic of Sherry's past - something never seen these days, with an average age of somewhere around eighty years.

Getting to what this wine is about will be an adventure, so let me say from the onset that #33 is one of the wildest and most singular vinous rides you'll ever be invited on.

A couple of quotes from the Equipo Navazos website hints at just how rare and unusual this wine is: "Just a few hundred halves have been bottled of this extraordinary wine, extremely old and equally special. We are perfectly aware that even many real experts will consider it undrinkable. But, frankly, we love it…"

Here's another illuminating quote: "This is a very old wine best intended to provide aromatic pleasure while we barely sip it - wet our lips in it, really."

To put it simply, this wine is INTENSE.

There's no tiptoeing around the fact #33 is a pricey commitment, but there's no denying the complexity on offer, or the rarity. This is really one of those things that if you can, it's worth trying a bottle of. We've just never seen a Sherry like this before.

Equipo Navazos' #33 is an extremely old vino de color. If you have no idea what a vino de color is, you shouldn't feel bad. Using vino de color completely fell out of fashion somewhere around fifty years ago.

The best vino de colors were made by cooking down unfermented must to either one-third of its original volume (called sancocho) or one-fifth (called arrope.) Two parts of cooked down must is then combined with one part unfermented must and allowed to ferment.

Some of the vino de color was used to add color to things like Old East India and other brown sherries. Some was aged for a very long time into magnificent wines and used to super-charge a producer's top sherries, especially Olorosos. This is what we're dealing with.

Older books on Sherry are always emphatic about how awesome old vino de color can be. Julian Jeffs writes, "it has a remarkable and complex flavor, on first impact appearing sweet, it has an astringently dry after taste."

Great vino de colors were extremely valuable and bodegas cherished theirs, which is why Equipo Navazos was able to find three barrels of vino de color at Juan García Jarana. (Sherry fanatics may remember Juan García Jarana from Lastau's Almacenista series.) As always, Equipo Navazos focused on the barrel that they felt was the best and most balanced.

As mentioned earlier, the wine here is somewhere in the eighty-years-old range. At this age - some of the oldest that sees bottle in Sherry - the wine gets super-concentrated and complex.

#33 is a wine that's challenging, and can be mind-rearranging. But its fascination, its power and depth of complexity are undeniable. There's some sweetness, but this only adds a textural intrigue and helps to offset the tannins and astringency.

I tasted #33 five months ago and it may have left the strongest imprint in my mind that any wines has. I've never stopped thinking about it.

As can be imagined, you only need a couple ounces at a time. The wine is so intense that you'll be more than satisfied with this small amount. A bottle will last almost indefinitely when opened.

This is a true relic of Sherry's history. It's likely that it will be a number of years before La Bota bottles another one, and it's unlikely that anyone else will. If you're interested, this is the time.

Quantities are very limited.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits