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  • Richard Hemming MW
Written by
  • Richard Hemming MW
9 May 2019

Yes it does. And this vertical proved it. See also Jancis's article on sherry, and Montilla, Gems of Andalucía ignored, published today. 

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Tio Pepe's En Rama, seven of the previous releases were gathered in London to be tasted and assessed (bottles of the 2010 and 2015 editions could not be located). This was an especially unusual tasting because the whole premise of En Rama was to create a wine that had to be drunk young. In fact, in an unprecedented step for wine, the first release even had a 'best before' date on the back label. 

Tio Pepe En Rama is a selection from 22 different soleras. For the first release in 2009, a limited run was created, all of which was destined for the UK market and sold mostly through The Wine Society and Lea & Sandeman. Originally, there was a great deal of trepidation about releasing an unfined and unfiltered wine within a new category, but the reaction was very positive and the wine quickly sold out. This year's release comprises 18,000 bottles from 67 casks, and is available in at least 17 countries around the world. In the UK, around one-third is now sold via the on-trade.

Tio_Pepe_En_Rama_2019-7.JPG

During this year's selection, a mild and wet autumn was followed by a cold and dry winter, which created ideal conditions for strong flor growth in the cellars. Consequently, the 2019 is cloudier than last year's, and the aromatic style is definitely more flor than fruit. Head winemaker Antonio Flores refers to this as the 'second element of terroir' (the first being the vineyard). Because this en rama is bottled unfined and unfiltered, and therefore with yeast in suspension, he describes the bottle as the third element of terroir, with the 'natural nutrients giving ageability'.

There is no question that the oldest of these Tio Pepe En Rama wines are not just still drinkable, but have developed bottle-matured characteristics in much the same way as any other fine wine. Intriguingly, they also seem to exhibit the same predisposition to adolescent awkwardness, with the 2013 and 2014 editions seeming more shut down than both their younger and older siblings.

To find out more about En Rama, click the tag at the top of this article, and see this guide to a whole week of sherry coverage, including several videos, back in 2011.

These eight wines are presented in the order they were tasted.

  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2011 bottling.
    Still loads of fresh fruit, plus the caramelised almond aroma more normally associated with Oloroso. Lengthy, salty persistence with incredible intensity and richness on the palate. A great illustration of umami. Age cannot wither her! The length is just unbeatable. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2011-2021
    17.5
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2012 bottling.
    Lighter and less dense than the 2011 – much more floral – much more clasically Fino, in fact. Salty and lengthy, with good purity and an incredible umami mushroom character. Tea-leaf note on the finish. A very different beast from the 2011. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2012-2023
    17.5
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2013 bottling.
    None of the salty heaviness of the 2011, but pristine fruit on the palate instead. Altogether lighter and daintier, with the metallic twang of Fino, and a touch of lactic character to the finish. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2013-2020
    16.5
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2014 bottling.
    Saline and marine, with an almost reductive style – evokes Chardonnay from Jura, perhaps. A little flatter and more flabby than the older vintages. You can perhaps understand how this one would have performed better in its youth. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2014-2020
    16-
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2016 bottling.
    Bruised fruit on the palate but that makes complete sense in the sherry context, with layers of umami and undergrowth on the finish. Still succulent and tangy – interesting how much this has become more like Amontillado than Fino. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2016-2022
    17
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2017 bottling.
    Almond, blossom and bitter herbal notes. Precise and zippy, with a fleshy sort of body yet loads of delicacy and perfume too. Long, subtle, fragrant. Such a lovely range of perfume! Evokes hot summer nights. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2017-2024
    17.5
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2018 bottling.
    Engaging, tangy, salty, other-worldly, with dried fruit and a touch of earthiness. There’s an oily character too, which adds both texture and flavour complexity. It’s like mutant Riesling, but with dried fruit instead of fresh. A real pleasure. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2018-2025
    17.5
  • González Byass, En Rama Fino NV Jerez - Xérès - Sherry

    2019 bottling.
    Salt and a bit of flor/mould flavour too – this is so similar to cheese in flavour profile! Exquisite fruit, which is beautifully crunchy and fresh, juxtaposing the funkiness. Lengthy, floral, perfumed. Compared with the older bottlings this is obviously more youthful in style, and has plenty of fuel in the tank for ageing. (RH)

    15%
    Drink 2019-2030
    17.5