That’s what they say but I’m sure Gonzalez Byass and other legendary bodegas might beg to differ. None the less the offerings from Lustau are certainly very fine as I discovered recently.
Bodegas Lustau was founded in 1896 by José Ruiz, a court clerk, who founded his bodega on a small island: Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza. It was a modest beginning.
His son-in-law Emilio Lustau Ortega added his family name and moved the winery to the old neighbourhood of Santiago, in the historic quarter of Jerez de la Frontera. There, in buildings that formed part of the historic Moorish walls of the city, he slowly began to expand his business, still as an “Almacenista”. In 1950, the company began exporting it’s own sherry wines.
In 1988, Lustau took an innovative step by introducing a new bottle design for its wines. The elegant, dark bottle with sloping shoulders is exclusive to the company, distinguishing Lustau from the other Jerez wineries.
In 1990, Emilio Lustau S.A. was acquired by the renowned company, Luis Caballero, producer of liquors and spirits. This gave Lustau important financial support and the opportunity to develop and expand further.
In June 2000, Lustau acquired six 19th c. winemaking buildings in the heart of Jerez, covering a total area of 20,000 m2. These buildings were restored and today they are the company’s primary winemaking facilities.
In 2012, it was the most medalled winery in Spain and the seventh worldwide. Lustau oenologist, Manuel Lozano, has been named Best Fortified Winemaker of the Year seven years in a row by the International Wine Challenge of London and the bodega won a trophy for best Sherry in 2013.
So much for the past. What about the wines of today? I recently purchased three of the more modest wines in the Lustau range for a limited tasting with my colleagues at the Bespoke Dandy. The wines were:
An entry level Manzanilla with a dry crisp finish. Excellent as an aperitif with lightly salted almonds. These wines come from old soleras, mostly founded or acquired from 1900 until the 1930s.
A balanced nose with aromas which point to a slightly higher age (as the golden colour already indicates). Walnut husks, chamomile and meaty hints of bacon fat. Candied orange peel. Quite a soft yeastiness. Cashew nuts, almonds and a hint of green banana. Nice but soft and a little restrained.
Easy to find at about €13. 90-92 points.
Palo Cortado Peninsula:
Robert Parker – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
“A mind-blowing sherry is the non-vintage Palo Cortado Peninsula Solera Reserva. Like all Lustau sherries except for the East India, it is made from the Palomino varietal. A dry, crisp, full-throttle, intense sherry offering incredibly complex, nutty aromas, it represents a style that falls between the Amontillado and the more oxidized, heavier Oloroso.” (08/12)
Not certain about mind-blowing but this is a very accomplished wine with the finesse and delicacy of an amontillado and the depth of an oloroso. Perfect with cheese or nuts or as a post prandial digestif.
Oloroso Don Nuno:
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator: “Nicely defined, with salted caramel, date and green tea notes leading the way, backed by brisk blood orange and spice cake notes that add length and cut on the finish. Drink now.”
The “Don Nuno” Oloroso is best served as an aperitif with blue or strong-flavored cheeses, or as a digestif with nuts after a meal. It should be served at a cool room temperature. Notes of dried prunes and molasses but finishes dry. Impressive.