Los Arcos Amontillado is part of my wine DNA. I’ve been selling this wine for almost as long as I’ve been selling wine. Amontillado is a great Sherry style. Dry, clean, fresh, moreish. Amontillado is one of the easier Sherries to start with because it doesn’t confront your palate too much. Los Arcos Amontillado is a great entry point. It has the classic flavours. It’s spicy, nutty, dry. It has a fresh palate, with good richness at the core. The wine ends clean. There is definitely more complex Amontillado available. But value-wise and sheer drinkability make this Los Arcos Amontillado a winner.
Importantly, due to the production methods used, you can leave a bottle of Amontillado open for at least 6 months before start seeing any deterioration.
Emilio Lustau has been one of the forerunners in quality, Sherry. Known for sourcing extraordinary Sherry from private Soleras, these ‘Almacentista’ bottlings are now iconic. The secret to the success of all the Lustau wines is the age, density and balance of their wines.
Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Winery Notes
“Aged for equal periods under “flor” and in contact with the oxygen, in Bodega Emperatriz Eugenia in Jerez de la Frontera.
This dry Amontillado acquires a genuine, rich and nutty flavour through years of ageing. Amber in colour, with hazelnut aromas on the nose. Light, soft and round on the palate, with a long aftertaste.
There were two arches at the entrance to the winery at Plaza del Cubo, where this Amontillado was aged. Each one was dedicated to one of Emilio Lustau’s sons’ wives: Arco de Zuri (for Emilio Lustau Ruiz-Berdejo’s wife) and Trini (wife of José Luis Lustau Ruiz-Berdejo)
ALCOHOL: 18,5% Vol.
AVERAGE AGE: 4+4 years
Jerez in southwestern Spain is where Sherry comes from. Sherry is a fantastic product. Unique because of local conditions, the ‘Solera’ system, and Flor yeast. It is impossible to replicate these wines. Sherry can be anything from young to quite old and dry as dry can be to luscious and sweet. Palomino is the grape for dry Sherry. Sweeter wines use Pedro Ximenez (PX) and Muscat of Alexandria (Moscatel).
Amontillado means “in the style of Montilla”. Montilla is a region in Spain the grows a lot of the Pedro Ximenez for Sherry. Amontillado starts life as a Fino under the Flor. When the Flor dies, it is fortified to a higher level and ages like an Oloroso. It has the brine, yeast, and fine bones of Fino. But the palate has some more richness and a touch of rancio. It is a very clean style of fortified.
The Solera system used is Sherry is a way of fractional blending. There are many stages in the solera. Wine is bottled from the oldest barrels (no more than one third is taken each bottling). Then those barrels are topped up with the next oldest barrels. This can go through many levels of age. Therefore some of the oldest barrels have wine that is at least 30 years old but may be much older.
This differs drastically from Champagne or Port blending. In Champagne or Port, they blend separate wines to achieve the desired flavour. In the solera, the fractional blending takes place constantly, and the final product is the results of many years.
To answer your first question: “What is Spanish wine like?” I would say nothing on earth. Sort of… They use a lot of Tempranillo, which is a bit Shiraz-y, some Grenache (they say Garnacha). After that their native grape varieties are fairly out of the box and are just their own beast. Some of the regions can make wine that resembles Australian wines. If they ever discover the joys of irrigation, they could put a lot of our vintners out of business. Then you get into the unique wines of Spain. Sherry. Real, Sherry from Jerez is amazing. Albarino from Rias Baixas, Mencia from Bierzo, Rioja reds that can live for 60 years and still look young. Oh, and forget Prosecco, Cava is where you should invest your money for value Sparkling Wine.
In Spain, the wines are super cheap. For the amount of work put into production, and the flavours they achieve, most people would happily pay more for Spanish wine than what they charge.
Fortified wine is grape juice (ferment fully, partially, or note at all) that has had a spirit added to it. The spirit can be a high strength neutral spirit. Or it can be almost Cognac-like. The fortification process is a highly effective way to preserve wine. And it was a process the English adopted to get all of these lovely international wines back to England.
Often fortified wines are aged for an incredible amount of time in the barrel, making them complex, and charming. There is a fortified wine for every occasion, and I have hosted dinners in which we served only fortified wine.
Fortified wine can be dry or sweet or anywhere in between. They can use red grapes or white grapes. And often end up brown due to the aging process. The alcoholic strength can run from 15%, like a strong table wine, all the way to over 20%. Best to read the label before going back for the second glass.
The most famous fortified wine is Port. Almost as well known is Sherry, Madeira, Muscat and Topaque (formerly Tokay) from Australia. There are countless other unique and quirky styles.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is impressive. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.