Hidalgo, La Gitana En Rama Manzanilla
Brand : Hidalgo
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Bringing en rama sherry to the market is one of the most exciting recent developments in the sherry industry. Essentially rama means branch and en rama would be translated as on the vine or figuratively: raw. That’s exactly what it is: raw sherry, in its natural state, straight from the cask (or rather: the closest possible to straight from the cask). It only applies to biologically aged sherries.
Unfortunately sherry wines as a whole, and Fino and Manzanilla in particular, usually undergo excessively heavy filtering and clarifying. This is the result of the consumer’s preference for clear, pale, light wines that go well with food, and the producer’s quest for more stable and consistent wines that have longer shelf lifes. This filtering process is taking out flor residues and impurities, but a lot of colour and flavour as well. The only way to try this kind of raw sherry would be in Andalucia at one of the Bodegas or stores that sell sherry in bulk. Slowly though, the industry is realizing that there’s a growing consumer interest for a more genuine style of sherry that hasn’t been modified by a series of pre-bottling manipulations.
The problem with biologically aged sherry wines is of course the risk of bottling particles of flor and the possibility of re-activating them in the bottle. To take away this risk, most producers seem to have taken the path of activated carbon, a material with a high internal porosity, hence a large internal surface area which will absorb even the smallest microparticles. When done very aggressively, it will basically turn your wine into water. For sherry wines though, a minimal filtration (using plate filters or the traditional egg-white) or a brief cold stabilization will suffice to take away this risk.
In reality en rama sherries still undergo minimal clarification, but they find a much better balance with retaining the essential flavouring and colouring molecules and only taking away the biggest, solid particles. A truly raw wine, bottled without any filtering whatsoever, would turn brown and go bad after a mere two weeks. You could say en rama is the best possible compromise between required stability and desired flavour intensity. The wine can still be slightly cloudy but in a way that’s the essence of biological ageing.
The industry standard for sherry filtering is to use a 0,4 – 0,45 micron filter. This will reduce the amount of micro-organisms as yeast cells will not be able to pass through. For most en rama bottlings, typically a coarser 1 micron filter will be used. Big clots of yeast cells will be taken out, but it’s perfectly possible for smaller, individual cells to pass through. It’s not uncommon for en rama sherry to have quite a lot of white flakes floating around in the bottle. However given the limited amounts, this is perfectly harmless for consumption, it’s even said to contain beneficial antioxidant compounds.
Tasting Notes: The En Rama has the classic ozone and salty notes present in the finest Manzanilla as well as a floral touch and plenty of nuttiness and dry apple fruit. The added component is the meaty almost earthy character present in the mid palate. The finish is crisp, and the lemony acidity gives this a wonderfully fresh finish.
For the Sherry aficionados amongst you this is a must try.