Not really so long ago in Burgundy, négociants dominated the wine market. Growers sold even their finest wines to the négoce who bottled them and that's what was largely available for retail purchase. But as a new generation of growers took over their parents' estates, and as the market expanded for wines made by a specific grower, drinking Burgundy wine is now about finding bottles by the producers and the vineyards that we like. And I doubt that anyone would say that this is a bad thing.
For me, it's been a bit strange to wrap my head around. When I first drank an Equipo Navazos wine I had no idea what it actually represented. Eduardo Ojeda and Jesus Barquin of Equipo Navazos have developed relationships with people in Bodegas all over the triangle, and they select special barrels from specific soleras to bottle and sell all over the world (more often than not in Singapore, but that's another story). Many of the people I spoke to in Jerez and Sanlucar are happy that Equipo Navazos is doing what they're doing because Equipo Navazos is generating renewed interest in Sherry as a fine wine.
Equipo Navazos wines are expensive by Sherry standards (and well worth the money), and people snap them up so fast now that it's virtually impossible for retailers to keep them in stock. Would you pay $45 for a bottle of Sánchez Ayala Manzanilla? This is a rhetorical question because we didn't when we could have, and now we can't. But we all eagerly shelled out $45 for Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla No 22, a Manzanilla from the soleras of Sánchez Ayala.
This is not a criticism of us, of Sánchez Ayala, of Equipo Navazos, or of anything. I'm just trying to suggest that we should remember, as we (re)discover fine Sherry wines, that there are great producers of fine Sherry, outside of Equipo Navazos.
I will keep buying Equipo Navazos wines (when I can find them) and you should buy whatever makes you happy. But in addition, I will also buy Sherries made by producers such as Emilio Hidalgo, El Maestro Sierra, and other Bodegas who bottle their own wine. If you like Sherry but you drink mostly Equipo Navazos wines, you might also consider trying some other wines. It's not all about Equipo Navazos, as great as the wines are. There are other great Sherry wines out there and they are becoming easier to find in the US, probably due in large part to the success of the Equipo Navazos project.
Some of my favorite Finos that are available in the US, for example:
--Valdespino Inocente (and Equipo Navazos bottles wines from this solera too)
--Emilio Hidalgo Fino Especial La Panesa (Crush sent an email about this wine today - definitely something to buy if you haven't already)
--Emilio Hidalgo Fino (delicious, inexpensive, and absurdly hard to find, still)
--El Maestro Sierra Jerez Fino
--Pedro Romero Manzanilla Aurora
--Gutierrez Colosia El Puerto de Santa Maria Juan Sebastian Elcano
--Argüeso Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda Manzanilla San León Clásica