Sanlúcar de Barrameda,
Ramiro Ibanez is one of the true masters of the Sherry Triangle and a pioneer in a region that is anchored in centuries of history. Similarly to Champagne, large sherry houses have traditionally relied on the blending of parcels and fortification in order to achieve classic “house styles.” The notion of individual terroirs has never been at the forefront of the conversation, despite the variations in altitudes, expositions and soil compositions within each of the villages. While Ramiro has spent the majority of his career as a consultant for some of the classic bodegas in Sanlucar, he is also in the process of changing the narrative. Ramiro is convinced that each pago (parcel) has its own unique expression and by vinifing individual pagos separately, he begins to share this story through the wines of Cota 45.There are now a handful of other winemakers that are following in his footsteps, and the true potential of Sanlucar is beginning to shine.
Bodegas Cota 45 is located in a former boathouse, just below Ramiro and Maria Rosa’s home, with views of the Rio Guadalquivir spilling into the Bay of Cadiz. Cota 45 refers to 45 meters above sea level, the point where Ramiro believes we find the purest most complex Albariza soils. A scholar, historian, writer, and winemaker, Ramiro has dedicated the last 10 years to analyzing, tasting and sharing the complexity of the terroirs of Sanlucar. He is closely connected to the elders of the town and pieces together the history in his 800 page book that has yet to hit the press.
Ramiro concentrates on the 4 primary pagos of Sanlucar: Miraflores, Paganilla, Carrascal, and Maina. The wines are fermented without temperature control in old barrels of Manzanilla, without topping off, and therefore allowing for the presence of flor. The wines are not fortified, just as the locals enjoyed in the 1800’s, when sherry was largely exported. Ramiro’s wines are pure, energetic and incredibly complex expressions, offering a photograph of the village. The tension of the chalky albariza soil is balanced by the richness of the sun-kissed fruit and the slightly oxidative aging process. Their capacity to age will allow more of the story to unfold as time goes on.