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Emilio Lustau Rare Amontillado Escuadrilla (half-bottle)
When To Drink it: Drink as a warming apéritif, with or without food.
How To Serve it: Serve slightly chilled.
Strength: 18.5% by volume
Rafael Balao realised that Lustau's place had to be at the forefront of quality. His ideas, combining tradition with innovation, paved the way for Lustau to become, today, "The Definitive Quality Sherry House." A collection of Almacenista Sherries, drawing on rare and marvellous wines held by the stockholders, were chosen and offered to selected customers. These wines are some of the finest Sherries made. The Lustau Solera Reserva range of fine old Sherries was created, drawing on stocks of wines held by Lustau since its beginnings as an almacenista. The tradition of the East India Solera was revived, blending rich, sweet Sherries much sought after in the 19th century and made in similar conditions to Madeira wines by maturing the casks of wine in a warm, humid environment. In 1986, stocks for a unique single vintage Sherry, Vendimia Cream, were laid down. This was first released in 1992.
In 1990, the fortunes of Emilio Lustau SA changed dramatically, when the famous El Puerto de Santa Maria Sherry and.spirits company of Luis Caballero SA, producer of Ponche Caballero, Spain's largest selling liqueur, took a major shareholding. This gave Emilio Lustau considerable and secure financial backing, and the chance to develop and expand. It also brought into the company 170 hectares of fine Albariza vineyard land at Montegilillo in the Jerez Superior region to the north of Jerez. The involvement of Luis Caballero SA in the firm of Emilio Lustau has meant that further emphasis is being placed on fine Fino Sherries. All the Sherry interests of the Caballero group are now under the Lustau banner. That includes the considerable stocks of Puerto Fino held in the bodegas at El Puerto de Santa Maria, which form the basis of Lustau Finos. Here, in the Caballero bodegas, more innovation is in progress. A unique Double Flor system of refreshing the wine just before bottling preserves the freshness of Fino in the bottle. This means that the Puerto Fino of Lustau is now one of the most reliable - and freshest - Finos on the market.
Since 1988, Lustau have used a new bottle shape for all their wines. The elegant, dark bottle, with sloping shoulders is unique to the company, setting Lustau Sherries apart from others and reflecting the very special quality of these wines.
Known for bold reds, crisp whites, and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place the primary emphasis upon its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally warm to hot. In the center of the country lies a vast, dry plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought. Because of its location on the Iberian Peninsula, many of Spain’s wine regions are located on or near the milder coast, either of the Bay of Biscay to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest, or the Mediterranean sea to the south and east. Each of these regions has its own unique soil, climate, and topography, as well as principal grape varieties.
In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate, though elsewhere the most popular wines are generally red. Rioja is Spain’s best-known region, where earthy, age-worthy reds are made from Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache), as well as rich, nutty whites from Viura. Ribera del Duero produces opulent, fruity, top-quality wines from almost exclusively Tempranillo. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, blends Garnacha with Cariñena (Carignan) to make bold, full-bodied wines with a hint of earthiness. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. Sherry, Spain’s famous fortified wine, is produced in a wide range of styles from dry to lusciously sweet at the country’s southern tip in Jerez. Since the 1990s, international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc have been steadily increasing in importance in several regions.
Most sherries are dry and meant to pair alongside food but Americans have traditionally focused on the sweet ones. Sherry comes from only one place in the entire world, Andalucía, where the soil and unique seasonal changes give an unsurpassed character to its wines. The many styles change with the process of production, not really the grape, though certain styles are reserved for different grapes. The main grapes are Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria.
Pedro Ximénez can make some amazing sweet sherries. Cream Sherry is technically the sweetest, darkest style of Sherry, except sometimes Pedro Ximénez can be sweeter. The rest of the styles are dry and dependent on the action of flor, which are benevolent film-forming yeasts that make a floating veil on the surface of the wine and protect it from oxidation.
Fino, from Jerez, and Manzanilla, from the humid and cool coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, are the lightest styles and are meant to be drunk young.
Amontillado happens when a Fino’s layer of flor fades and the wine starts to oxidize. Quite simply it is an aged Fino that has a darker color and richer palate.
When flor yeast dies unexpectedly, the result is Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado Sherries can behave like Amontillado on the palate but often show a greater balance of richness and delicacy.
Oloroso never develops flor but is oxidized for five to twenty five years and become aromatic and strong like a fine bourbon.