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The annual release of González Byass' Tío Pepe Fino En Rama sherry is an eagerly anticipated event here at Chambers Street. Having downed copious amounts of the newly-bottled En Rama at the rollicking Feria de Jerez festival this past spring, our countdown to the delicious 2016 release began even earlier than usual! Bright and lemony, delicate and buttery, layered with scents and flavors of creamy yeasts, buttered nuts, golden bread crusts, and the salty sea - "Pure Flor Juice!" in the words of master winemaker, blender, and consummate gentleman, Antonio Flores - this is the most potent yet nuanced expression of En Rama to date.
The idea of bottling Tío Pepe "En Rama" (without filtration) arose during a barrel tasting in the spring of 2009 at the vast, historic González Byass bodega in Jerez. Spring is the time of year when the layer of flor (Saccharomyces yeast) on each cask of fino sherry is thick and active, permeating the wine below with the pungent aromas and intense flavors that define fino sherry. González Byass UK's Managing Director, Martin Skelton, had the brilliant suggestion to bottle up the pure, wild essence of flor in an unfiltered springtime bottling. Their first release of 16,000 bottles sold out in the UK within 48 hours and the Tío Pepe En Rama craze was born!
Each fall, Antonio Flores now selects the 100 (or so) casks of Tío Pepe most suited to En Rama. He re-tastes in the spring and narrows them down to 60 casks that truly exemplify the life of the flor. These finos are passed through a coarse metal gauze to strain sediment, but not subjected to a standard filtration or clarification that stabilizes the wine but dilutes many of the rich textures and flavors created by flor. The result is a powerful, bone-dry expression of Tío Pepe's biological maturation, which defines this most classic of fino sherries, with González Byass' trademark depth and finesse.
We are very pleased to offer the 2016 En Rama bottling today. In addition, we have received our allocation of the 2015 González Byass Las Palmas Collection, a quartet of sherries rigorously selected by Antonio Flores himself (with the assistance of guest wine luminaries) to trace the evolution of Tío Pepe casks as they age, in this case from 6 to 51 years. The complexity and raw beauty of these wines are astonishing, with unique concentration and character that are impossible to extrapolate from the experience of drinking sherries in their youth. Tasting notes and technical information for Una Palma, Dos Palmas and Tres Palmas Finos, as well as the extremely limited Cuatro Palmas Amontillado are available below. Opportunities to taste these wines are scarce. We highly recommend it.
Next Monday, August 15th, at 7:00pm Chambers Street Wines is delighted to co-host an intimate rooftop dinner alongside our friend Andrew Sinclair from González Byass, who has a wealth of sherry knowledge and experience to share. Tío Pepe Fino En Rama will be flowing, and we will have the rare pleasure of drinking Las Palmas 1-4 alongside sensational seasonal Peruvian fare at Llama Inn in Williamsburg (50 Withers Street; Brooklyn, NY 11211). The menu and pairings are printed below. Please join us to celebrate these magnificent wines! Ariana Rolich
TIO PEPE EN RAMA 2016
CHICKEN THIGH, FERMENTED SOY BEAN, AJI VERDE, POTATO CHIP
PORK BELLY, CHAR SIU, PICKLED CHILIS, SPICY MAYO
OCTOPUS, AJI AMARILLO, CABBAGE, QUINOA
SEA BREAM TIRADITO, GOOSEBERRY, GINGER, BLACK SESAME, HAUCATAY
CORVINA CEVICHE, LIME, DASHI, PLAINTAIN, HABANERO, RED ONION, CILAN-TRO
DOS PALMAS & TRES PALMAS
WHOLE BRANZINO PATARASHCA, BANANA LEAF, AJI AMARILLO, HEARTS OF PALM, CHOCLO, COCONUT RICE
DUCK SAUSAGE, RICE, ENGLISH PEAS, RAISIN, CUMIN, BEER, SPINACH
BEEF HEART, AJI PANCA, ROCOTO SALSA
All sherries in the Las Palmas Collection begin their lives on track to become Tio Pepe, which averages 4-4.5 years of age. A fascinating variety of flor activity and microclimates throughout Tio Pepe's soleras (totaling approximately 20,000 barrels) creates especially pure and fine expressions that set certain barrels of fino apart. The tradition was to mark these wines with a "palma" and to trace their development over time; two, three, and four palmas designate increasing fineness with age. The 2015 selection of Una Palma was pulled from three barrels of fino in a solera of 142 casks averaging 6 years old. Andrew Sinclair from Gonzalez Byass notes that this is a higher-alcohol style of fino that was typical prior to the 1960s (fermented to 11% alcohol and then fortified to 15.5%). Soft, rIch aromas of flor, beeswax and chamomile, with hints of peppercorn and banana leaves contrast with the bracing freshness of the palate, full of tingly lemon oil, concentrated yellow fruit flesh and tart and bitter golden plum peels. Ariana Rolich
Monday, August 15th, at 7:00pm Chambers Street Wines is delighted to co-host an intimate rooftop dinner along with Andrew Sinclair from Gonzalez Byass, who has a wealth of sherry knowledge and experience to share. Tío Pepe Fino En Rama will be flowing, and we will have the rare pleasure of drinking Las Palmas 1-4 alongside sensational seasonal Peruvian fare at Llama Inn in Williamsburg (50 Withers Street; Brooklyn, NY 11211). Please join us to celebrate these magnificent wines! Ariana Rolich
The annual release of González Byass' Tío Pepe Fino En Rama sherry is an eagerly anticipated event here at Chambers Street. Bone-dry, bright and lemony, delicate and buttery, layered with flavors of creamy, slightly bitter yeasts, buttered nuts, golden bread crusts, and brine of the salty sea - "Pure Flor Juice!" in the words of winemaker and master blender, Antonio Flores - this is the most potent yet nuanced expression of En Rama to date. Pair with Blue Moon's rustic, salty oysters and crunchy fried fish. Ariana Rolich
Dos Palmas is a selection of two casks with still-active flor from an old fino solera of 150 casks averaging 8 years of age. Incredibly memorable for its abundant bouquet of dried apple and golden raisin with silky notes of almond oil and demure florals that continue on to enrich the refined yet electric palate of soft citrus peel, aloe, green almond, and yellow currants. A rare and wonderful pleasure with roasted fish or game with complex combinations of herbs and spices. Ariana Rolich
Gonzalez Byass' Palmas series is an exploration of the most extreme and elegant expressions of the soleras that feed Tio Pepe - arguably the world's most consistent, classic, and popular fino sherry. Tres Palmas 2015 is a selection of a single cask in a ten year-old (average) solera, which stood out as the only cask among 150 where a small amount of flor had survived. A dramatic and drop-dead delicious pairing for rich smoked fishes, duck, and roes, Tres Palmas exhibits immense complexity from spicy aromas hinting at cinnamon oil and bark, to the intensely savory, shape-shifting, palate that showcases autolytic flavors and textures, umami and rancio, as Gonzalez Byass puts it: "the limit between life and death, the agony of the flor." Ariana Rolich
A mere 500 bottles of Cuatro Palmas was pulled from the third cask of a tiny six-cask amontillado solera with 51 years of age. Impossible to describe with adequate reverence or detail, this is a sherry of astonishing freshness and integration at an advanced age. Intense and oxidative aromas of spicy cedar, exotic spice, bitter herbs, smoked salt, and dried flowers; the palate is deeply savory and saline, with dried figs and herbs, fermenting wild berries, burnt earth, bitter bark, rancio, and brine, with sparks of tense acidity (the result of steady evaporation over decades). Cuatro Palmas is remarkable and rare, a wine to be shared and savored. Ariana Rolich