Spring marks the start of en rama season, the moment when sherry producers release lightly filtered, fresh finos and manzanillas.
A type of sherry wine, en rama has invigorated the dwindling appreciation of wines from Jerez, in Andalusia, Spain. And it needed it.
Sherry, often overlooked and derided, with well-documented sliding sales, has gained a new generation of top sommeliers who are championing it and sharing this traditional wine.
Let’s first explain that sherry comes in many guises. From bone dry fino and manzanillas, to super sweet moscatel and pedro ximenez. Where you fall on the sherry scale is something you’ll have to discover yourself but when talking about en rama it is the dry styles that feature.
Next you need to know that fino and manzanilla are wines made in the same way but in different locations. Fino is from Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa María whilst manzanilla can only be aged in the bodegas of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the north of the region on the coast, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river that flows from Seville.
Both fino and manzanilla are pale coloured wines that demand to be served chilled. They have around 15% alcohol and to most people are indistinguishable from each other – despite having their own certified denominations of origins.
As George Byrne, co-founder of sherry producers Diatomists puts it: ” In the main, you could say Fino and Manzanilla are identical twins, made up of the same genetic code. But like all twins, over time, they have grown into their own separate identities. There are a few key distinctions in the production of each style which makes all the difference.”
To the trained nose and expert palate they are both unique, albeit with similar characteristics – just like twins! Either way these wines are unbeatable.
What exactly is en rama?
Translated from Spanish, en rama literally means raw, or unfiltered. But this is not the whole story. Renowned Master of Wine, Natasha Hughes, vehemently challenges the persistent assertions that en rama sherries are unfiltered and bottled without any intervention.
And she’s right. Every en rama sherry has had some element of stabilisation or light filtering. After all, who wants bugs and bits in their wine glass. As a result, producers are increasingly acknowledging this important fact by updating the information they release each year. And to keep you on your toes some producers don’t label their sherry wines as en rama, despite technically being the same.
What this means is that the wine you get in your glass is super fresh, retains it vibrant aromas, flavours and colour, and is the best expression of the wine at its peak.
What to expect in your glass
Granted, sherry is not everyone’s go-to drink. And, en rama sherries can be slightly cloudy in your glass and may have tiny particles floating around. But don’t panic, it is worth it. The wines are very rewarding to drink, offer tremendous value and if served correctly can convert the most ardent critic.
En rama wines are released throughout the year but most usually in spring and autumn, when the active yeast that sits on top of the wines in the barrel, officially known as flor, is at its most active.
It is the time of year when the climate is not too hot, not too cold and the humidity is just right. Giving more vibrant and distinctive aromas and flavours. Think brioche, baked breads and pastries, green apples and marzipan or almonds.
Despite being by the Atlantic Ocean it is not the salty sea air that gives sherry its unique salinity. This is a result of the naturally occurring yeasts that are in the vineyard and around the bodegas.
The savouriness of these wines means they are perfect with many different foods and is no doubt the reason why so many sommeliers love the wines of Jerez.
New to en rama?
If you are new to en rama sherry here’s a few suggestions about what to put in your glass. You can find it by the glass on the wine list, or in half bottles (37.5cl) to share and enjoy with light bites, in standard-sized bottles (75cl) to keep in the fridge and in magnums (150cl) for special occasions with friends.
The best bars and restaurants around the UK have sherry available by the glass and those who really know their stuff will definitely have en rama. So, if you’re not already onto it, we urge you to give en rama sherries a go.
Bodegas Hidalgo En Rama Manzanilla
Produced from 100 % Palomino grapes grown on white albariza soils at Hidalgo’s highest quality vineyards of El Cuadrado at Balbaina Alta and Miraflores. Manzanilla En Rama is sherry at its very best – unfined and only lightly filtered free-run juice which has spent eight years in the solera. Fermentation is set off by natural yeast, after which, the young wine is fortified to 15% before being matured in the traditional Solera System in old American oak casks under the signature layer of flor. Bodegas Hidalgo La-Gitana selects just 35 of the finest casks for their En Rama, which is bottled almost directly from the barrel, producing an intense and complex Sherry.
With a spicy and delicate aroma, this is an elegant, light and fresh Manzanilla with a touch of citrus bitterness and a signature salty tang. Perfect served as an aperitif with salted nuts, olives and jamon or as a foodie choice alongside fresh seafood or vegetarian dishes.
Find this wine at Brindisa, Nobu and the Beaumont Hotel.
I Think Manzanilla en rama
A small yet mighty manzanilla that clearly states the bottling date on the label. Available in half bottles this wine is selected by Equipo Navazos and bottled exclusively for them. A fine Manzanilla that’s powerfully aromatic. Fresh, with a salty tang, with plenty of acidity together with a very satisfying lemon twist to the finish. A natural Product with plenty of colour, weight and concentration.
These wines come from soleras and individual casks that remain, relatively neglected by the market in corners of many of Andalusia’s most prestigious bodegas.
These unexpected yet fortunate findings have been made available to wine lovers around the world in limited quantities under the La Bota series (consecutively numbered editions, with the date of each saca or withdrawal date on the label)… in doing so respecting generations of expertise and care for these rare wines.
100% Palomino and aged for 5 years in bota, this is an invigorating white wine with a subtle, floral, mineral nose. Great intensity with sea breeze salinity running through an impressive structure, there is tension on the palate. The yeasty, baked bread flavours are in balance with apricots and golden apples. In the mouth the texture is silky and round, with an extremely long and clean finish. A unique style of Manzanilla to be served chilled with food or as an aperitif.
Find it online and at the following restaurants: The 10 Cases, Endell Street W1; Lo Rapitenc, Frome; Bar Kroketa, Soho; Pintxos, Bath; Melton’s Restaurant, York.
Tio Pepe En Rama
Antonio Flores, award-winning master blender at González Byass, comments, “The 2023 release of Tio Pepe En Rama is straw yellow with an olive-green background with golden glints. It displays intense, very expressive aromas of the starter yeast, nuts, apple, fresh herbs and chalk. Pure Albariza. On the palate, it is captivating, fresh, intense, smooth and creamy.”
Bottled on 31st March 2023, this super-fresh Fino is available in magnum, 75cl and 37.5cl formats.