Sherry Glossary...or, What's a Butt?

Posted by CrushWine

Bodega: a generic term for a winery or cellar. In Sherry, the bodega is thought to have its own unique terroir. 

Solera: a succession of barrels, each one of which is filled with wines of different ages. The younger wines provide nutrients to keep the flor alive, and they flow into the barrels that contain the older wines as wine is drawn from the solera to be bottled.

Butt: a barrel associated with the Sherry region and often made of American oak. Individual butts make up the solera.

Flor: Yeast cells that form a film over wine that's not topped-up in wooden barrels. Flor provides many of the flavors that define Fino and Manzanilla Sherries and Jura Vin Jaune.

Fino: The lightest and freshest of Sherries. Aged under flor yeast and usually from wines with a fairly young average age.

Manzanilla: Fino from the area of Sanlúcar. The proximity to the sea results in wines that tend to be even fresher and more delicate than Fino.

Amontillado: Essentially, aged Fino where the flor yeasts have died and exposed the wine to oxygen. Flor dies over time or through raising the alcohol level by fortification beyond what flor can tolerate.

The History of La Bota

Fascinatingly (though perhaps not surprising), Equipo Navazos wasn't formed with commercial ambitions. Instead, it was born out of a deep knowledge of Sherry and a love for the wine.

It all started in 2005 when Jesús Barquín, a professor of criminology and renowned Sherry expert, and Eduardo Ojeda, technical director at Grupo Estevez (which includes the famed sherry houses of Valdespino and La Guita), stumbled upon an old Amontillado solera at Bodegas Sanchez Ayala.

They knew they wanted some of the wines for themselves, so they selected their favorite butts, wrote to friends around the world to help them make the investment, and bottled just 600 bottles. That was La Bota de Amontillado #1, named after Edgar Allen Poe's story, "The Cask of Amontillado."

The first several wines weren't meant for the market. But word spread (hey, it's good stuff), and Barquín and Ojeda eventually decided to release the wines commericially, albeit still in tiny quantities.