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A classic, elegant Manzanilla with all the sea breeze and salinity you expect from Sanlúcar de Barrameda
- Producer: Bodegas Juan Piñero
- Region: DO Manzanilla - Sanlúcar de Barrameda
- Vintage: NV
- ABV: 15 %
- Grape: Palomino Fino (from the Pago del Hornillo vineyard)
Golden yellow in colour; fresh, herbal and saline on the palate with a lick of green apple and a long, lingering finish. This is the winery’s flagship manzanilla from a solera with 8 wines (the solera on the floor, plus seven criaderas), and an average age of 8-9 years.
Shellfish, Fresh fish, Salted fish, Cold soups, Rice dishes
More about Manzanilla Maruja
Who makes it
Juan Piñero was a builder by trade, who fell into the winemaking business when he bought an old bodega for renovation. He had planned to turn the property into flats, but fell under the spell of the old building and had soon refurbished it as a fully functioning bodega.
Initially operating as an almacenista – a warehouse keeper or wholesaler, who traditionally bought and aged young wines before selling them on - Juan built up the bodega and eventually bought the Maruja Manzanilla brand.
Then, in 2013, Juan began to work with Ramiro Ibáñez one of the most well-known and well-respect enologists in the area (who also has his own fascinating winemaking project, Cota 45). With Ramiro’s help, Juan waved goodbye to his life as an almacenista – and began to make his own wines.
Palomino Fino – often just referred to as Palomino - is a white grape variety which originated in Andalucía and is most closely associated with Jerez where it covers about 95% of the total vineyard area and is the key grape used to make a whole range of wines, mainly fortified but some still wines too. In the Canary Islands it is known as Listán Blanco.
Palomino Fino vines tend to give quite high yields, with clusters of medium-sized grapes with quite thin skins, which can make it vulnerable to fungal diseases like mildew or botrytis. It is very resistant to high temperatures and drought, hence you’ll tend to find it in dry, warm climates. Palomino Fino grapes are quite low in acidity and sugar and wines can have a tendency to oxidise (ie spoil on contact with air), which is not a problem for sherry producers but makes producing quality table wine more of a challenge.
Still, dry wines made with Palomino (as it is usually referred to on still wine labels) tend to be quite light, simple and balanced. But the variety really comes into its own when it’s subjected to crianza biológica, or biological ageing in botas or butts under a veil of the famous flor, the white film of yeast cells native to the region of Jerez which float on the surface of the wine. The flor stops air getting to the Palomino Fino wine and encourages a bewildering array of delicious aromas and flavours to develop. These vary depending on the wine style (Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Palo Cortado etc) but can cover everything from saline and nutty notes, fresh dough, almonds, spice, leather, orange zest, dried fruits or tobacco.
Where it's made
Some 20 kilometres west of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda sits facing the Atlantic at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. Sanlúcar is the home of Manzanilla, a dry white wine made from Palomino Fino grapes and, like fino from nearby Jerez, biologically aged for at least two years under a layer of yeasts known as velo de flor. Sanlúcar’s position and unique climate make for higher humidity and cooler temperatures than those found in bodegas further inland. This produces a slightly thicker flor than in Jerez for example, which means manzanilla wines have less air contact whilst ageing and tend to be lighter and fresher than fino, with a more saline nose, notes of sea breeze and even sometimes a hint of iodine.
How it's made
Manzanilla Maruja is made from 100% Palomino Fino grapes from the Pago del Hornillo vineyard in Sanlúcar. The wine is aged for an average of 8-9 years using the traditional solera y criadera system, with the solera level of butts on the floor and seven levels of criaderas stacked on top. This makes for a so called ¨dynamic¨ ageing system, whereby new wine is added to the butts on the top level and the oldest Manzanilla is extracted from the butts on the floor and bottled. This latter process is known as the saca.