Lustau, 3 En Rama NV sherries

Sanlucar de Barrameda - riders on the beach

Three wines of this week this time – and they're stunning! Above, Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Andalusia, horse and sherry country, pictured in summer (credit: Esparkling/Getty Images).

From €12.95, 2,750 Japanese yen, $21.99, £16.95, 234 Norwegian kroner, AU$39, HK$220, NZ$60 per half-litre cork-stoppered bottle

Find the Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Find the Fino de Jerez de la Frontera

Find the Fino de El Puerto de Santa María

I am married to a sherry fiend. There are few evenings which don’t start for Nick with a small glass of usually Fino or Manzanilla. It’s one of the few wines we actually buy regularly to drink – as opposed to stashing it away in our cellar.

So whenever I’m offered a sample bottle of one of these wines I accept gladly. For the last couple of years I’ve been sent a cute little box of three half-litre bottles of Lustau’s range of three en rama sherries, released each spring. And they seem to get better and better. The 50-cl bottles, incidentally, with their useful stopper corks, are so well designed they almost look like full, 75-cl bottles.

There’s a Manzanilla, a Jerez Fino and Fino from El Puerto de Santa María, pale, light (all are 15% alcohol), dry wines representing each of the three sherry towns, all given their full names (Moorish Jerez having been at one stage on the frontier of Christendom). The Manzanilla was of course matured, as the regulations have it, in the pretty little town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda on the Guadalquivir estuary.

Lustau is the only producer to make these three different en rama sherries, en rama meaning the wine is drawn directly from cask and bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

Lustau's 3 en rama sherries

This year I really loved the Manzanilla and Jerez Fino and was just slightly less enamoured of the Puerto Fino, but perhaps I don’t understand it as well.

These wines are the most brilliant aperitifs and, although there is a common belief that such wines collapse and die after only a few months in bottle, this is very much not the case, even if they evolve a bit in style, arguably losing a bit of freshness but gaining complexity. In fact with my drink dates I may well be being too cautious and I have included all listings I could find on Wine-Searcher in my prices above.

The wines are easiest to find in Spain, naturally enough (though I have experienced difficulty ordering sherry in Catalunya, home of Cava …). But they are also listed by Wine-Searcher in Japan, the US (a plethora of retailers), the UK (ditto), Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Norway, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia – although not all countries seem to have all three wines.

The trio that I tasted most recently were the spring 2023 releases but I can see from Wine-Searcher that on many markets it is the spring 2022 releases that are still on sale, so allow me to share with you my tasting notes for the last two sets of releases.

Spring 2023 releases

Lustau 3 En rama NV Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Light, fragrant-but-steely nose – not unlike a dry Riesling! Very long, pure and pungent. Lovely wine! And a fabulous aperitif. 17/20 Drink 2023–24

Lustau 3 En rama Jerez de la Frontera NV Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
Very pale, paler than Tio Pepe En Rama. Tangy and substantial. Really long and subtle. 17/20 Drink 2023–25

Lustau 3 En rama El Puerto de Santa Maria NV Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
Pale straw. Less aromatic than the Jerez Fino. Light and extremely salty. Great for getting the appetite going and quite delicate. One for sherry aficionados but possibly a bit too light for newcomers to the style. Though there's a certain electric buzz to the finish … 16.5/20 Drink 2023–24

Spring 2022 releases

Lustau 3 En rama NV Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Light, fresh nose reminiscent of ferns. Quite a broad palate that reminds me of a full-bodied Côte de Beaune white burgundy. Very savoury finish and lighter-bodied than the two finos that have been released alongside this wine. 16.5/20 Drink 2022–24

Lustau 3 En rama Jerez de la Frontera NV Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
Pungent and very concentrated and targeted on the nose and then beautifully nutty (almonds?) and sleek on the palate. Persistent and with so much more to it than most fino sherries. There's a certain richness to this bone-dry wine. So clean and it tastes as though it’s positively health-giving. The most complex wine of the trio. 17/20 Drink 2022–25

Lustau 3 En rama El Puerto de Santa Maria NV Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
Deeper straw colour than the Fino de Jerez. More of a cloud than a spear in the way the aroma reaches the nose. Saline and savoury on the palate. This would be lovely with some fish dishes. There's a burnished edge to this wine that puts me in mind of rope! Bone dry and quite substantial in terms of body – less obvious acidity than the Fino de Jerez de la Frontera. 16.5/20 Drink 2022–24

I urge UK-based sherry aficionados to stock up on these beautiful, underpriced wines this minute, before the new duty rate increases of almost £1 a bottle for wines of 15% alcohol filter through the distribution chain. Hurry!

See Natasha Hughes MW’s article Elucidating en rama for more on this increasingly popular style of sherry.