Fino Amontillado, “La Bota 85”, Montilla-Moriles
In contrast to those of the Sherry Triangle, traditionally made wines from Montilla-Moriles—located 100 miles north of Jerez de la Frontera—are not fortified; rather, they are picked at an alcoholic strength of 15% or so, a level facilitated by this zone’s significantly warmer climate. Furthermore, Pedro Ximénez—rather than Palomino Fino—is the dominant variety in Montilla-Moriles, famous in its ultra-sweet version but capable of producing flor-aged dry wines of staggering complexity as well. La Bota #85 belongs to the elusive category of fino amontillado—an “in-between” classification of historical significance which is rarely seen today and is in fact prohibited from appearing on labels. This saca comes from the esteemed Pérez Barquero estate in Montilla, from the oldest fino solera in their bodega Los Amigos, and the Equipo Navazos team selected 15 casks from the 63 that comprise the solera. Produced exclusively from Pedro Ximénez grown in the white chalk soils of the Montilla ridge and hand-harvested at 15% alcohol, #85 sports an average wine age of 12 to 14 years, with a bottled alcohol level of 16% owing to a slow oxidation that marks the onset of the amontillamiento process. A cousin of sorts to the manzanilla pasada “Capataz Cabo” (see La Bota #110), this bottling offers the brisk, direct, salty freshness of a fino alongside the more mysterious murmurings of an amontillado on a frame of impressive concentration and tunneling length. [NOTE: While “fino amontillado” is not allowed on the label, the phrase “un fino que va para amontillado” is utilized to capture the wine’s spirit.] Bottled in October 2018; 3,000 bottles produced.