The best finos and manzanillas of the Peñín Guide

24 February 2022

Biologically aged wines can be, strangely enough, a secret to many consumers. To some extent it is understandable, because they are complex wines that require a deep explanation, and many prefer to stay on the surface without diving into the aromas and flavours characteristic of this type of wine.

However, we have the other side of the same coin. With any wine lover you talk to, and here we enter the elitist world of wine connoisseurs, if you mention the term "flor" or biological ageing, their mind is instantly blown and their eyes widen like platters.

What is the magic of biological ageing?

The phenomenon of the veil is born from a fungus that settles on the surface of the liquid in a bottle and interacts with the wine that lies beneath. Gonzalo Fernández de Bobadilla described them as "a group of micro-organisms that live on the surface of the wine and which are technically called "velo" (veil). As Manuel Mª González Gordon rightly analyses in his exceptional book "Jerez-Xarez-Sherish" published in 1935, "when the formation of the veil begins, white spots are observed, which later become larger spots, with their irregular contours, resembling small flowers swimming on the wine, hence the name "Flor" (flower). These spots become larger and larger until they form a continuous whole with the appearance of a thin, faint white veil.

This biological cloud keeps the wine protected from oxidation, as it acts as a barrier so that oxygen does not reach the wine. At least at the times when it is strongest, as this veil has a life span of varying degrees of intensity, with the most intense periods being spring and summer. What this whitish layer is actually doing in the wine is capturing ethanol molecules and combining them with oxygen, giving rise to acetaldehyde, with which the resulting wine changes in all its fundamental aspects, aroma and taste

But the best way to understand these wines is glass in hand, so we bring you some of the best organic aged wines that we have tasted recently as part of the Peñín Guide 2023 tastings. All these tastings can be consulted by our premium users by clicking here. If you are not yet a premium member, you can upgrade your account by clicking here. Ready to travel through the exciting world of organic ageing.

The best manzanillas tasted this year

La Bota de Manzanilla Pasada Nº103

Winery: Equipo Navazos

Marvelous example of a superb manzanilla pasada of about thirteen years of age. It seems to come from two casks that were in the cellar of La Guita and that were later refreshed with the Solera 1/41 aged in the same cellar. This is a manzanilla in its race towards oxidation and the defiance of an amontillado; iodised, elegant, sharp and very saline. A living example of the greatness of Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Undoubtedly a wine almost for collectors, but may they uncork it and keep it in their living memory for many years to come, it's wine that must be tasted. 



1822 Magnum

Winery: Bodegas Herederos de Argüeso

We couldn't love the magnum format for wine more. This excellent manzanilla grabs you from the very first moment. This is a long-aged manzanilla with an average ageing period of 8 years. It comes from a 33 cask "andana" with 12 casks being "solera" and located in the San León winery, in the lower borough of Sanlúcar. When the "sacas" (extractions for bottling) are made in the solera, they are replenished with wines from the Manzanilla San León solera. For this reason we are faced with a wine that has sharp, saline and iodine flavours together with aromas that begin to remind us of its advance towards the world of amontillados, a high-flying Manzanilla pasada.


La Riva Manzanilla pasada Balbaína Alta

Winery: De la Riva

A superb manzanilla that comes from the La Balbaína Alta estate, characterised by its soils of albariza de Barajuelas, one of the purest, whose laminated profile is reminiscent of a pack of playing cards. This is a wine with an average ageing period of 16 to 18 years that stands out in all aspects. Particularly iodised and with a frankly interesting chalky background. Its age also leaves us with aromas of acetaldehyde. On the palate it is powerful, long, bitter and reveals the rich hints of solera. A real off-the-beaten-track wine.


La Gitana Aniversario

Winery: Bodegas Hidalgo la Gitana

This wine was born as a tribute to the founding of Bodegas Hidalgo back in 1792. The palomino fino grapes that give rise to this manzanilla come from two of the most renowned vineyards in the Marco de Jerez: Balbaína and Miraflores. This manzanilla encapsulates the sea breeze of Sanlúcar, with pungent marine notes. In it we see the elegance and savoir-faire of a very typical and representative manzanilla. With its rich nuances of dried fruits and a subtle advance of oxygen in its interior that brings us closer to the effect of time in high-level manzanillas.


Goya XL

Winery: Delgado Zuleta

With more than 10 years of ageing, which makes it a kind of aged manzanilla with an alcohol content of 15% vol., we stop at this exceptional manzanilla from the Delgado Zuleta winery, one of the oldest in the Marco de Jerez. It comes in 50 cl. bottles and everything about it reveals the enormity of the great wines that have been gaining weight over the years. Goya XL is precisely an unconventional manzanilla, far from the freshness of organic wines with lighter ageing. From our first contact with the wine we realise that biological ageing plays a major role, but it is not its only argument. Complex, long and very representative.


Lustau Almacenista Manzanilla Pasada

Winery: Lustau

This is a slightly younger manzanilla than our previous examples. We are talking about a wine that has been aged for 7 years, which allows us to soften the oxidative nuances of its ageing in favour of more frank, fresh and saline sensations. The solera of this manzanilla pasada is made up of 80 casks that age in the cellars of Manuel Cuevas Jurado, in Calle Trabajadero of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.


The best finos tastes this year

Fino Tradición

Winery: Bodegas Tradición

Bodegas Tradición was born from the history of the Bodega CZ Rivero, a historic winery with a great exporting vocation. In 1998 Joaquín Rivero founded Bodegas Tradición, in his eagerness to recover his family's historical link with wine and the world of winemaking, lost after selling his historic family winery to the Carbonell Group. Since then, this house has been characterised by finding and breeding great lost wines from the Marco with the aim of showcasing only premium wines. This fino that we present to you today is a good example of its historical vocation, and its tireless quest to bottle these great finos in Jerez. A wine that, through its golden colour, shows us a long and vibrant ageing process. Intense, with character and rich nuances of withered flowers, dried fruits and an intense, pungent background of flor yeast. On the palate it shows its rich solera nuances and its almost eternal flavour.


Tio Pepe 1, 2 y 3 Palma

Winery: González Byass Jerez

There are many stages in the process of a biologically aged fino towards its culmination as an amontillado wine. This is the same exercise that González Byass presents us with its excellent Tio Pepe Palmas range. Its first three palmas are the organoleptic journey that a fino goes through in its relationship with oxygen. We can appreciate it initially in the colour of each one of them and we can see it fundamentally in their nose and in their taste. Tío Pepe's collection of palms could not be more formative in this aspect, and it does so from the excellence of the Palma wines, a term that stylistically designates the fino wines that stand out for their cleanliness, finesse and delicacy.


Viña Corrales Pago Balbaína 

Winery: Bodega San Francisco Javier

This is one of the wines born from the partnership between the famous Peter Sisseck (Dominio de Pingus) and Carlos Del Rio González-Gordon (Hacienda Monasterio), both rooted in their projects in Ribera del Duero, who took over 470 casks of fino from the Juan Piñero winery, as well as vineyards in the historic vineyards of Balbaína and Macharnudo. It has been a few years since this project was officially launched in 2017. Although the wines were already in the barrels, the new owners had to come up with their own style and identity. We present you this Viña Corrales, a Fino de Pago that comes from a long biological ageing of approximately 8 or 9 years, which makes it a more intense and gastronomic Fino. It is a wine with a frankly interesting nose, where we can find rich nuances of camomile and saline notes. The palate brings the finishing touch to a wine that is long, bitter and full of personality.


Fernando de Castilla Antique

Winery: Fernando de Castilla

The Fernando de Castilla winery brings us probably the fino with the most personality of all the wines we have tasted. This is a very special wine, noticeably ripe (ripe fruit),intense and tasty. It is a wine that has been aged for 9 years, but the most important thing for us is that it offers us an unconventional vision of the local finos, something we are grateful for as it leaves its unquestionable stamp on the final product. Acetaldehyde, varnish and nuts. This is a very complex and disfrutón-enjoyable fino


Fino Granero en Rama 

Winery:  Manuel Aragón

This small producer located in Chiclana brings us a fino rich in yeasty notes, breadcrumbs, and with intense pungent sensations. This is a fino that is subtle and well put together. A good example of how biological ageing can influence a fino depending on where it is aged, which completes the complex map of finos that can be found in the DO. Jerez. Until the recent approval of the new specifications of the DO Jerez in July of this year, when the number of ageing areas in Jerez was increased, all the wines of this producer had to be labelled with a special label, instead of the DO label, as Chiclana was not included as an ageing area (except for the muscatels). From now on, this wine is marketed with the official label of the appellation, a small correction that is undoubtedly a good thing.


La Ina

Winery: Lustau

Fino belonging to the Caballero Group, responsible for the wines of the Lustau winery and also included in this review of the best finos and manzanillas in the Peñín Guide. Few producers are capable of producing a fino of such quality and maintaining a frankly low price despite this. This is a fino aged for an average of 5 years, elegant, very expressive and with its own well-defined style, unchanged from year to year. A living example of how to fine-tune a biologically aged wine using the criaderas and soleras system.


Lustau Fino del Puerto en Rama 

Winery: Lustau 

We move to a fino aged "sous voile" for five years in the centre of El Puerto de Santa María. Pale straw colour. Aromas of yeast (breadcrumbs) and toasted almonds over a marine, saline and iodised background reminiscent of the aroma of low tide. On the palate it is fresh and sharp, again showing the biological notes of its ageing. An excellent example of a medium-aged fino that retains much of its initial freshness and its marked influence of the sea.


1730 Fino en Rama 

Winery: Álvaro Domecq

The Álvaro Domecq winery brings us an elegant fino, with a long biological ageing process (10 years), but perfectly harmonised. As they themselves state, "to make 1730 Fino en Rama, we selected the 20 casks from our solera in which we considered that the pungent and aromatic character of this wine was most prominent". This is an unfiltered fino in which all its saline and sharp touches are kept almost intact from the cask. A wine worth tasting if one wants to understand the strength and uniqueness of these very special wines.


    Written by Carlos González, director de la Guía Peñín
    Written by Javier Luengo, director editorial de Peñín

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