Lustau was established in 1896 by the almacenista José Ruiz-Berdejo who owned a vineyard, Viña Nuestra Señra de la Esperanza, where he made and aged Sherry in his own soleras. Almacenistas are skilled producers who lack the means to sell to export markets and play a role in supplying quantities of wine needed by the big bodegas or to improve the quality of their wines. They could be described as middle men, supplying fine quality wine and balancing supply and demand. José’s son in law, Emilio Lustau Ortega took the reins of the bodega in 1931 and decided to expand it. He bought more vineyards and another bodega, and in 1950 he began bottling his own brands and became an exporter, ceasing thus to be an almacenista.
Emilio’s sons took the business forward and continued expansion through the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s they appointed the late Rafael Balao as director and under his leadership the bodega became one of the most progressive, innovative and successful in the area. He introduced the iconic bottle and, not forgetting the firm’s origins, introduced the famous Lustau Almacenista range of Sherries, all produced by almacenistas and bottled under their names and distributed by Lustau. In 1990 the firm was taken over by Luis Caballero and this gave Lustau more vineyard and the cash flow for further expansion. A former Pedro Domecq complex of six bodegas was bought in 2000 along with four important soleras and Lustau moved all its operation there after restoration work. The firm now offers a dazzling array of multi award winning Sherries and is the only Sherry firm to own bodegas in all three towns of the Sherry tringle: Jerez, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de barrameda.
Manzanilla is the pale dry Fino style Sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda where the Guadalquivir joins the Atlantic. The humidity allows a healthy growth of wild yeasts (flor) on the wine giving it a complex and delicious yeasty floral saline character.
Fino is the pale dry style of Sherry from Jerez and El Puerto de Santa Maria. As this Jerez wine ages in barrel wild yeasts (flor) settle on the wine giving it a complex and delicious yeasty character while protecting it from oxidation and making it really dry.
Natural Amontillado is dry Sherry. It starts life as a Fino but when the flor yeast dies off it continues ageing oxidatively. It thus has the best of both worlds: the crisp freshness of Fino and a nutty depth of body from the oxidation process giving a charming wine.
Natural Oloroso is dry Sherry. It never develops flor yeast and only ages oxidatively giving it a deep mahogany colour. Its name means “fragrant” which it is, and it is full bodied and generous with nutty walnut notes. It is sometimes blended with sweet Pedro Ximénez to make Cream Sherry.