Sherry wines: the vineyard

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The Solera system, Velo de flor, Manzanilla, Oloroso, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximenez, there are many different concepts that spring to mind when referring to sherry wines. However, there are others such as Mahina, Carrascal or Balbaina, for example that are not so much associated with the region or not as well known.

They are simply names of reference plots in the Marco de Jerez, vineyards with special characteristics that make them stand out by producing wines with characteristic profiles.

vinedo-jerez

We are not used to referring to specific vineyards or estates when referring to wines from Jerez. However provide you with a bigger insight into this aspect because we believe that it has an increasingly significant importance on the Spanish wine scene.

However, before we start with the specific plots of vineyards (pagos) and their specific characteristics, we will give a brief general introduction into the general characteristics of the conditions on the vineyards in Jerez.

Climate.

The region is home to a warm climate, with a medium annual temperature of around 22ºC, which can reach as high as 40º in summer. The summer experiences the Ponente winds, humid, before the Levante, dry. The vineyards’ proximity to the sea and ocean winds help temper the weather and top with a characteristic humidity of the area known as “blandura” or dew, which reaches the farthest payments as Macharnudo in Jerez. Annual rainfall is around 600ml and is concentrated in the autumn and winter seasons, although 2016 has been a somewhat unusual year, with a very strong attack of mildew from the late April rains.

Soils.

The “Albariza” is probably the main and most renowned soil in Jerez. The plots and vineyards planted on this soil variety come under the “Jerez Superior”. However there are other soil varieties that are so characteristic that makes them inferior plots such as those with mud in lower areas of the hills, as well as those with sand soils in coastal areas which are used for the Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez varieties.

The Albariza soils come from the sedimentation of the waters in the Oligocene. It is rich in calcium carbonate, clay and silica from the shells of diatoms and radiolarians that were present in the sea. This soils variety has a high clay content (50-60%), with silts (30-40%) and sand (15%-20%). It has a great capacity for retaining humidity, when it rains these soils act like a sponge, and when it is very hot the surface manages to retain the water.

As a result of the topography, the rocks formed by Albariza is formed by very gentle slops with gradients of around 10-15%. The soils are not all uniform either, as Albariza erodes, which differentiates the character on each of the plots.

Although these two variables, climate and soil, are very important in differentiating different plots and vineyards, geographical location also plays an important part, as the distance from the coast, the orientation and altitude can have an effect on grapes. Factors that can influence the quality of the vineyard include,

  • Albariza content and type of albariza. Examples of this include La Tosca de Barajuela, which is a type of Albariza which is present on grand estates such as Mahína in Sanlúcar and Macharnudo in Jerez. Its main characteristic is its great capacity to retain humidity, as are the course of Antehojuelas which belong to the soils of the Carrascal estate in Sanlúcar. Lustrillos is rich in gypsum, Pelirones is slightly rockier …. It is here where the Palomino variety unlocks its greatest potential.
  • The areas that are on slopes are not only different because of their temperatures and winds that come from the sea, but also for their Albariza content. As previously mentioned, the highest concentration of Albariza soils can be found on slopes. For example, in the Macharnudo estate there is a difference with the Macharnudo alto.
  • Exposure to the sun and winds. Less exposure to the sun and a bigger influence from the Ponente wind means that the grapes mature at a slower rate, producing a slightly more delicate wine.
  • Proximity to the sea: an important factor in regards to the finesse of the wine. Vineyards that are situated closer to the sea tend to experience a larger Atlantic influence and a more tempered climate.

Having explained the different factors that occur at the vineyard we will see the estates that exist in the frame and where they are located geographically. Here are some famous examples, since there are countless divisions within the estates.

Jerez:

  • Macharnudo is the most prominent plot of the zone. It is situated inland, but at one of the highest altitudes in the region with a high quality albariza which makes it an ideal terroir. There are many subdivisions within the estate as it is home to an impressive 56 hectares of vineyards, such as Macharnudo alto, Majuelo, Blanquez …
  • Aniña y Balbaina, on the same to Puerto de Santa María with a stronger Atlantic influence, and therefore with slightly more delicate wines.
  • Carrascal is one of the oldest estates of Marco de Jerez, and is one of the farthest from the sea.
  • Los Tercios, the closest to the Atlantic coast in Jerez.

 

Sanlúcar:

  • Mahina, for the region this estate rivales the Macharnudo in Jerez. It is the most famous estate in the region, is home to the purest Albariza soils, but it is also complicated by its orientation and exposure to the constant dry Levante winds.
  • Callejuela, Pastrana, Hornillo y Miraflores with the Atlantic coast and delicate.

We have analysed a little more into the theoretical aspect of how estates are classified. However the industrialisation of the vineyards, large winemaking companies, the low price of grapes and the overproduction have indeed had a slight effect on the character of the vineyards in Jerez. Fortunately, there are winemakers who are trying to revive them. Examples of these winemakers include, Ramiro Ibañez, Fernando Angulo, Paola Medina, Armando Guerra, Willy Peréz, El Bolli, Jesús Barquín, Eduardo Ojeda, Álvaro Girón…

Thank you to all of those for the passion for the region, and for believing in its potential. They have sparked again our interest in Jerez.

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A Emoción dos Viños 2016.

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Last weekend we had the opportunity to go over to Valença Do Miño, in the Quinta de Santa Luzia in Portugal for the sixth edition of the A Emoción dos Viños fair. The fair is usually held in the cloister of the Gothic cathedral in Tui on the Spanish side, however due to restoration work the location had to be rearranged this year. These two bordering cities combine perfection and scene, a typical Portuguese Quinta, ideal for the fair.

emocion-vinos

The A Emoción dos Viños fair celebrates wines from all over the peninsula, but mainly those from Galicia and Portugal. The aim of the event is to meet people and vignerons. The intent of these small winemakers is to move you to the landscape where they work and how they interpret it. Sharing these moments with them they can help you understand many things about the wine. Often a typical wine-tasting is not enough to truly understand and evaluate these types of wines. The people, their personalities and their emotional play and important role.

We already know a few producers with whom we can share their new vintages. Envinate, Fedellos do Couto, Comando G, Borja Pérez, Forjas do Salnés and Albamar, with their wines that increasingly look to reflect the character of the terroir, soils and vines from where they come from.

We also were able to meet newer winemakers, such as Laura Lorenzo who produces in the Ribeira Sacra, charming and humble, Iago Garrido from the Ribeiro with spectacularly sharp white wines, Manuel Moldes from the Fulcro winery, Maria de Narupa and Alberto Nanclares in the Rías Baixes with their granite bottling, Bernardo Estévez with discretion and sensitivity with Issue and Francisco Blanco with his Callejuelas full of albariza. From Portugal we met Rodrigo Filipe and his Humus and serenity, Marical Dorado in his last vintage in the Vinho Verde zone, unmissable and positive, António Marques from Qunita da Serradinha with his sincere and direct wines, Silvia and Nadir from Os Golidardos, a lovely couple with an great sensitivity to publicize new vignerons and many more that are in the pipline to return next year.

It was an intense weekend during which we were given free rein to the sensibilities, and we were so fortunate to try so many wines. Thank you to Marina and Antonio for hosting A Emoción dos Viños. We hope to soon to transport you to the fair yourself by adding new additions to our ever growing catalog of wines.

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New Parker Points on wines from the Mediterranean, Central Spain and the Canary Islands

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It seems like we’re in for a treat since Luis Gutiérrez, the man at the helm of Parker for Spanish wines, has released 3 publications at the same time. We now have new points for Mediterranean wines, wines from the central zone and wines from the Canary Islands. Clearly the best scores have been awarded to those wines which have preserved the character of the grape, with little extraction and little presence of the wood.

parker

Mediterranean.

This vast area in the south east of Spain which is home to a notably severe climate in terms of its heat and droughts. According to Luis Gutiérrez, the last year has been hard on the region given the notably hot weather it has experienced. A result of this is that some producers have not been able to produce all of the cuvee that they normally had.

In Valencia, the wines by Rafael Cambra have had a fantastic year. Made with the native Forcayat variety, his wine La Forcallá de Antonia 2014 was awarded 93 Parker points. His other cuvées have also had a good year, thanks to a lighter vinification process. For example, his wine Rafael Cambra Uno was awarded 91 points.

Also in Valencia, the wines by Celler del Roure are defined the use of Mediterranean grape varieties and production in amphorae. As an example we have Cullerot 2015, aged for 6 months in amphorae and awarded 90 Parker Points.

Then in Jumilla, Casa Castillo continues to successfully interpret the vintage and the terroir. Its Syrah wine Las Gravas 2013 was awarded 94 points, while their Garnacha Tinta El Molar was given 93 points, and their Casa Castillo Monastrell 2014, 91. A new winemaker to follow is Julieta, with their “pitarra” vineyard as they refer to it. The winery was awarded 91 points with their wine La del Terreno Monastrell 2014.

From Manchuela, Ponce remains a key player with their productions using the Bobales and Albillos varieties. Their wine El Reto 2015 was awarded 93+ Parker points, one of their best vintages.

In Alicante, Bernabé Navarro remains one of the best exponents in the region, producing in two different zones. One of these is the Mata Natural Park, where they produce very personal white winse, with macerations carried out with the skins and no addition of sulphur. An example of this is El Carro, which was awarded 91 points. Then in the interior Villena zone, the winery used red grape varieties to produce the rosé wines such as Musikanto, which was awarded 90 points, and the red wine Beryna, which was awarded 92+.

In Albacete we have Envínate, currently very fashionable on the Spanish wine scene with their Garnacha Tintorera Envínate Albahra, which was awarded 92 points.

Central Spain.

According to Luis, there has not been much to comment on from this region. The area lies between the southern zone of Jerez y Montilla Moriles and La Mancha, it is a great producer of bulk wine and wine alcohol.

Notably, the highest score in the area was given to a sweet wine from Málaga produced by Jorge Ordoñez, the wine Viñas Viejas Nº3 with 93 points.

Marqués de Griñon has also taken steps, who have refined the lines and left the wood to really mark their wines, and Vallegarcia, who each vintage continues to produce better wines, planting with native Mediterranean varieties.

Canary Islands.

The work of various winemakers has helped place the Canary Islands among the top level of Spanish wines. In Tenerife there is Envínate, Suertes del Marqués, Ignios y Matias and Torres en la Palma. You

Since 2010 the islands have been transformed and have found their identity in the use of native varieties, volcanic soils and an Atlantic character provided by the presence of the sea. Although it is possible to find slightly more structured wines made with foreign varieties, the results have not been overly satisfactory according to Luis Gutiérrez.

The Suertes del Marqués winery together with Roberto Santana in the D.O Valle de la Orotava began interpreting the grapes with a lightly fresher character with less extractive macerations. Year after year the results to prove to be a success, with 95 points awarded to their wine Suertes del Marqués El Ciruelo 2014 and 93 points to Suertes del Marqués El Lance 2014.

Then there is Envínate, a project by Roberto Santana and his three partners, Lala, Alfonso and Jose, who produce their wines in the Anaga region. The winery works with local farmers and wine growers who own and cultivate very old vines of native varieties. This wines are always awarded highly by Parker, but limited production and the high demand means they are quick to sell out. In September we will have the new vintages of their wines in this area.

Ycoden-Daute-Isora is the area where Borja Pérez works, a young vintner and the fourth generation of winemakers who has also opted for the use of native varieties and productions. Given that their wines Ignios Vijariego Negro and Ignios Baboso Negro were awarded 94 and 93 points respectively, we can see that this was the right path to take.

In Palma, Matías and Torres are perhaps the best exponents. Victoria is the architect of these wines, who felt the call of her native island, and returned to produce wines as they did before. As a result, we have Criollo Albillo and Negramoll, produced with native varieties and awarded 93 and 91 points respectively.

 

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New Wines for July 2016.

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In this post of new wines coming this July we have a little bit of everything for you! We have 6 great wines for you, sparkling, white and red wines, light wines and wines with slightly more body.

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Clos Lentiscus Malvasía Blanc de Blancs is a sparkling wine produced in the Garraf Natural Park. Manuel Avinyo and his brother are responsible to renovating the estate, cultivating the vineyards using biodynamic viticulture, situated on slopes exposed to the sea. The pair have taken the native Malvasía de Sitges grape and turned it into a sparkling version. This sparkling wine is would be perfect to serve to guests, or even just to enjoy at any time during the day to refresh yourself.

The new 2015 vintage of Dido Blanc is the second wine on our list. This wine is produced by Sara Pérez and Rene Barbier in the Montsant, two people who have been key figures in viticulture in the region and who were brought up in the industry on their parent’s wineries in the Priorat. Now it is clear that their project seeks to respect the surrounding environment, nature and the land. They have worked hard to ensure that the vineyards and winery integrate into the landscapes, and that their wines express the character of the land. Dido Blanc is an example of this working philosophy, where its Mediterranean character reflects the local climate, yet its fresh profile shows the time of production. A long awaited arrival, with the previous vintage sold out months ago.

Ramon Parera and Jordi Arnan founded Pardas in 1996 on the Can Comas estate with the aim of producing authentic wines in a manner than was respectful to the environment. If you ever visit the Can Comas estate you will see that everything changes, time stopes and nature welcomes you. You will pass the river Riudebillas, enter the valley and see terraces full of vineyards planted at the beginning. The winery which had been in disuse since the civil war has been adapted perfectly to their needs. This Pardas Xarel.lo 2012 is a balanced wine, exciting like everything to come from the Can Comas estate. The good grapes and the know-how at the winery results in a complex, light and long wine.

Then we have Forcallà de Antonia 2014, a more personal creation by Rafael Cambra. This wine is produced with a minority grape variety from Valencia which transmits a certain freshness. It has taken a few years for the winery to find its feet, but in the last few years it has managed to transform grapes into wines with a personality where freshness and fruitiness play a vital part.

We then move over to the island of Tenerife, more specifically the DO Valle de Orotava, where the use of native varieties, volcanic soil compositions, braided vines and cultivation techniques are all key in the local winemaking. Suertes del Marques El Lance 2014 is a red wine produced applying all of these features by Jonatán García and his oenologist Roberto Santana in his last year advising the winery. This wine is a treat for the senses, and transports you to the landscape of the island, with a minerality of the volcanic soils and the trade winds of the ocean.

Our final wine on our list is the new vintage of Mauro 2014tene, a safe bet for any self-respecting table. Mariano García, former winemaker of one of the most legendary wineries in Spain, Vega Sicilia, along with his children produces in Tudela de Duero. A peculiarity of the wine comes from the Syrah variety, planted by Mariano to complement the Tinta de Toro grape. A wine of modern cutting structure and ideal for people who are stuck in the middle as a lighter wine with body.

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Sparkling Wine. The traditional or ancestral method?

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Sparkling wines from around the world have two things in common: sugars and yeasts. Two vital ingredients which are necessary for the production of those refreshing bubbles.

espumosos

There are in fact many types of ways to produce a sparkling wine. One of the most famous methods is perhaps the Traditional method (or the Champagne method when referring to Champagne), a method created by Dom Perignon close to the city of Epernay in 1668 in Champagne, France. The method was then introduced to Spain in 1958 by Joan Raventós when he began producing cava. The Traditional, or Champagne, method is broadly speaking a sparkling wine that is formed through two fermentations. The first fermentation results in a still wine. This wine then undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, adding sugar and yeast to help produce CO2 in the wine. After a few weeks, months or even yeasts, depending on their ageing, the wine is disgorged to remove the yeasts that have done their job, putting on the final cork and optionally adding Liqueur d’expedition, which is made up of sugar and some kind of brandy or a formula of the winery. Every stage and process of this method is measured and studied. For example, the wine is clarified to ensure that it is not cloudy, ensuring the second fermentation is carried out smoothly, or the amount of sugar needed to create the desired carbon and time measured required to refine the bubbles.

Then comes our second method, even older, the Ancestral Method. This method dates back to 1531, and was created by the Benedictine monks of Saint-Hilaire, Languedoc. It is simpler than the Traditional method, since it only required one fermentation. For this method, the first fermentation is not completely finished when the wine is bottled. It follows that the carbon dioxide is produced by the grapes’ natural sugars. The ancestral development is much simpler and more spontaneous than the Champenoise method.

The number of fermentations is not the only difference between the two methods, and not even the most important. Big differences come from the vineyard, grape, climate and varieties. A winemaker who uses the traditional method in the region of Champagne will harvest the grapes from around to around 8-10% alcohol, so that the second fermentation later increases this to 11-12% with the addition of sugars. This, together with the climate of Spain, is completely different since the phenolic maturity of native varieties is achieved at a higher probable alcohol content, so the grapes are harvested in a state, say, something greener, without development aromatic optimal. However, with the ancestral method all of the sugars come from the grape itself, which means that they must be at the right point of maturation to perform all of the fermentation and produced the desired CO2 in the bottle.

The Traditional Method is used more widely today, however there is a new wave of processors that have begun to develop sparkling wines under the old method with very interesting results, producing more direct, fruity sparkling wines that are somewhat less complex because they are not aged for as long in the bottle.

Two types of sparkling wines, produced in very different way right from the vineyard. If you would like to try and see the difference between these two production methods, here we have a few excellent examples of each method.

Good examples of cavas produced using the traditional method include Recardo Gran Reserva Brut Nature, and At Roca Brut Reserva.

In regards to sparkling wines made using the ancestral method, we recommend La Salada Tinc Set Ancestral, and the Rafael Sala Ancestral.

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Wine Tasting, En Primeur wines from 2015

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Yesterday we had the opportunity to taste wines from the 2015 vintage that are still in the barrel. Prestigious wineries which put their wines on sale en primeur gave us a little taster and insight, and we are now able to share our first impressions. Generally, it has been a fairly dry and warm year in Spain.

avanzadas

Bierzo

It’s fair to say that it has been a year of contrasts for Ricardo and Alvaro Palacios, with record breaking temperatures and little rain until the harvest. When September came, the weather changed with rainy days that helped freshen the harvest.
The result has been impressive, the aromatic wines have a slightly more mature character which adds complexity, but in the mouth has a freshness and tension that gives the wine an extraordinary balance.
Corullón 2015. This is a good year in balance, where the concentration and freshness prevail.
Moncerbal 2015. This vintage comes with a strong mineral character and a good texture on the mouth. This is perhaps one of the best vintages made from this estate.
Las Lamas 2015. This wine continues its journey in becoming a fresher wine, with a character slightly less structured and mineral than Moncerbal.
According to Ricardo, this will be the year of Faraona 2015. This wine is boasting and aromatic complexity that will evolve over time and a mouth full of thousands of textures make the Faraona an extraordinary wine.

Toro

The Eguren brothers in Toro have had a hotter and drier year than normal. Their wines as a result have become more concentrated, which with delight consumers of these wines.
Almirez 2015. This wine is in its phase of taming the tannins in the barrel, the lowest of the three is showing that there will be major changes this year in the winery.
Victorino 2015. At the moment this wine is more accessible, but it also boasts an important structure and minerality that further develops with barrel ageing.
Alabaster 2015. This is concentration in a wine, the perfect harmony between optimal ripening of the grapes and large extraction work in the warehouse. This wine will evolve over time with a complexity of spices, roasted notes and fruitiness.

Ribera Del Duero

Peter Sisseck and Dominio de Pingus have also experienced a hot and dry year, which brings forward the date of harvest and decreases production relative to previous years. The vineyards used to produce PSI are scattered throughout the Ribera de Duero, and a cultivated and worked meticulously to ensure that the wine continues a great evolution year and year.
With PSI 2015, the Grenache grape plays an important role in the blend in the balance fruitiness, intensity and elegance.
Flor de Pingus 2015 has enjoyed a good year with optimal ripening and good overall health of the vineyard, this is a vintage more accesable in its youth due to the fruitiness provided by the grapes.
Pingus 2015 has suffered a slight decline in production to a somewhat atypical final harvest since there had been no change in temperature between day and night. During the whole month of September an entire team analysed the developments and as a result they ended up with healthy and optimally ripened grapes, but with a slightly lower production. Like its brother wine, this wine offers a good accessibility in its youth, with a large horizon full of singularities that develop over time brother.

Madrid-Sierra de Gredos

Comando G and one if its members, Dani Landi, are the key players in the region and the valleys that compost it. A warm year has benefited its most extreme ploys such as the Rumbo al Norte which has achieved an unusual aromatic complexity due to optimum ripening of the grapes and the corresponding tautness in the mouth that characterize these high Garnachas plots.

The wines La Mujer Cañón and La Reina de los Deseos are located close to the Cadalso de los Vidrios, at a slightly lower altitude, so the wamth is noticed a little more. These wines are therefore offering a slightly fruiter and less floral character of the Grenache.

Rioja

In Rioja we have three different wineries. Two of the wineries, the Eguren family and Artadi, have been influenced by a slightly more atlantic climate, while the third, Álvaro Palacios in Rioja Baja, has been slightly more influenced by a more arid and Mediterranean climate.

It has been a dry year for the Eguren family, especially from May when temperatures rose and there was a stark lack of rainfall, bringing the harvest forward by 3 weeks.  This vintage is marked by ripe fruit, but with a lesser concentration than previous years with its wines La Nieta and El Bosque, which also boast a great balance with the ageing between fruit and oak.

At Artadi they also saw the vintage brought forward, but having a final stable maturation and linear fruit in their wines is very precise and clean. This year their wines have a good balance.

For Álvaro Palacios it is the debut for their Quiñón de Valmira, a great wine from a Grenache vineyard planted 615 metres above sea level on the Mount Yerga. This wine demonstrates how the Rioja Baja and the Grenache grape go hand in hand, against the tough climate the Grenache gives way to a fine and balanced wine. A great wine that will speak volumes.

Priorat

Álvaro Palacios has had to deal with record temperatures in the Priorat, in a year that also experienced winter snow. Álvaro has qualified this vintage as hedonistic and enjoyable from its youth.

This year has seen the introduction of a new wine from the winery in the Priorat, the Augbaguetes 2015. A wine plot located in the Bellmunt, a hot area due to its lower altitude, as well as less hours of sunshine due to the orientation of the vineyard and its subsequent hours of shade. In recent years the winery has worked in a conscientious manner to increase the quality of the wine, until deciding to release it onto the market as a “vino de parcela” (wine from a single plot). This great wine from a warm area reflects Mediterranean aromas, and concentrated with a good structure.
Gratallops Vi de Vila 2015. This wine continues its line towards freshness, while this warmer year has given way to a fresher, Mediterranean aromatic notes and a little more weight on the palate.
Finca Dofi 2015. This wine is suprising in its accessibility and power, interwined with notes of citrus and red fruits, giving an incredible complexity. In the mouth, the concentration is plausible with silky tannins that predict a great future.
L’Ermita 2015. Airy, subtle and offering a perfect balance. It is the greatness of the vineyard that is harvested a month prior, which accumulate aromas, flavors and textures that make it what it is, a great wine.

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Purchasing ´Wine Futures´/ En Primeur

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We are now in June, and the harvest from 2015 is now resting peacefully in barrels and the time has come for the most exclusive wines from large wineries to be offered for sale “en primeur” (wine futures).

avanzadas

En Primeur, or ´wine futures´, was a concept created in Bordeaux by the most famous and prestigious châteaus. The wineries mark a price lower than that of the bottled wine. Given that vintages can vary and without an official rating, buyers make and investment and must evaluate how they believe the future vintage will be, having to predict the evolution of the wine.  Here come into play the skills of a good taster of advanced predicting whether it would be bad, good, very good or excellent vintage and what that would impact on the buyer’s investment. Therefore an advantage of buying wines en primeur is that the wines may be considerably cheaper during the en primeur period than they will be once bottled and released to the market However, that is not guaranteed and some wines may lose value over time.

An example of this is the 1982 Cheval Blanc (excellent vintage). The wine sold en primeur in 1983 for around €350-450 per box, while now you can except to pay around €9500, i.e a return on your investment up 21 times. However, in 1997 wines went for a slightly higher price en primeur, with a bottle of Haut Brion costing €150 costing the same in 2003.  On the other hand, in 1997 the wines went with a slightly higher price in advanced and was not at all a good year so for example, a bottle of Haut Brion that cost 150 €, cost the same in 2003. The vintages in Bordeaux can vary year after year given the climate variations that occur.

Year after year, the importance of the vintage is being diluted with the ever growing knowledge and understanding of viticulture and winemaking, although the character of the vintage is still important. As a market, the law of supply and demand also applies to the world of wine, with prices going up and down depending on the availability of wine. Some of the best wineries in Spain are rapidly gaining a reputation worldwide, with their best wines desired around the globe. This increase in demand has seen prices increase, resulting in the introduction of en primeur sales in Spain to delimit the sale of these wines. Therefore sales in advanced is a good time to have some of the best wines at a more affordable price and also, perhaps, the only time that can be purchased, as many cuvees produced in limited quantities sell out before even hitting the market.

And why are we explaining all of this? Because it will soon be the case that you will be able to purchase the best wines in Spain en primeur, for more or less half the price of the bottle once it has been released onto the market. Of course, you have to wait around 1 or 2 years for those wines that still lie in the barrels before they reach your doorstep.

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Fermentation in Winemaking

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By definition, “Fermentation is a catabolic process of incomplete oxidation, which does not require oxigen, and the final product is an organic compound”

fermentacion

Fermentation is an essential process in the winemaking process that must be carried out to convert the ‘sugars’ of the grapes to the ‘alcohol’ of the wine.

For many years the Greeks believed that this fascinating process of converting the sugars into alcohol was the work of Dionysus. During the middle ages, alchemists were responsable for carrying out these alcoholic fermentations without any technical bases, not until the 19th centry when Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) described and formalised the process.

There are many types of fermentation, but usually when in regards to winemaking we tend to only refer to two: alcoholic and malolactic fermentation.

Alcoholic Fermentation.

Alcoholic fermentation occurs between the sugars, that have been naturally created in the grape, and the yeast. The queen yeast variety is the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, a yeast that either comes naturally from the grapes, or from yeasts selected in the laboratory. The joining of these two elements transform the sugar to alcohol, which releases other substances such as heat and C02.

It is important to know how alcoholic fermentation occurs and whether it has been carried out with native yeasts, or rather with selected yeasts that have been inoculated to control the process. A wine that undergoes fermentation with native yeasts is usually more complex and offers more characteristic flavours of the territory, although this production technique does run some risks as they can coexist with other wild yeasts which divert the fermentation process and therefore the final result. Alcoholic fermentation carried out with inoculated yeasts ensures a linear and stable fermentation, however this production method results in a wine with less territorial complexity.

Malolactic Fermentation.

This is the second type of fermentation associated with viticulture, where malic acid is converted to lactic acid and C02 by lactic acid bacteria. Malolactic fermentation is carried out to soften the acidity of the wine, to biologically stabilise it and modify the organoleptic qualities of it.

Malolactic fermentation is carried out after alcoholic fermentation and is carried out in a natural manner, usually at the beginning of spring when temperaturas are around 20-22ºC, or in the wineries facilities where temperaturas are climatized to  similar level.

The tank or deposite in which malolactic fermentation is carried out can also have a great effect on the style of wine, depending on whether it takes place in small and new deposits such as barrels, or larger, more neutral ones.

Here we have two wines that serve as an excellent example of how a different malolactic fermentation can affect the profile of the wine,

Ramírez de Ganuza Reserva. This wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels. This will result in more intense aromas from the mannoproteins that organoleptically provide lactic notes that result in a wine with more body. This style of wine has experienced a boom in popularity in recent years. .

Viña Tondonia Reserva. This wine undergoes a second fermentation (malolactic fermentation) in large wooden vats, where the contribution of mannoproteins is insignificant and the real different lies in the change of the Sharp acidity in the wine to something more pleasent.

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New wines for June 2016

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Coming into June it finally feels as if summer is coming. Little by little the temperaturas are rising, and we find ourselves searching for wines that are a little fresher, a little lighter. Our new collection of wines for June are offering just that.

 

novedades-junio

The first wine on are list is one that year are year seems to gain freshness and complexity, the Mas Candi Qx Cuatre Xarel.lo 2014. This wine has changed its mentality over the past few years. Before, the barrels were the protagonist of the wines character but now, in an effort to preserve the character offered by the Xarel.lo grape, other containers such as amphorae are used.

The next wine on our list is the Zárate 2015, the new vintage of wine offered by Eulogio Pomares and family. With every vintage, the work carried out on the vineyard can be felt is reflected in the character of the wine. This year given the slightly warmer climate, the wine has gained acidity and concentration. This is a pure Albariño from the Valle de Salnés.

The third wine on our list is Viña Meín 2015, a classic wine from the Ribeiro area, which was reinvented 2 years ago with the input of the acclaimed Command G, a team of great winemakers in  Gredos and the surrounding area. This is a white wine that will satisfy what you are looking for, and will refresh you.

Abel Mendoza is also present in our new collection of wines with the Abel Mendoza Viura 2015 from La Rioja. This white wine is has a slightly complex nature due to its 4 month ageing in oak barrels, and is made using grapes that have been well treated, cultivated and frown throughout the year by Abel and his wife Maite.

Now time for a bit of Rosé, although this rosé has the soul of a red wine and is the Quinta Clarisa 2014 by Didier Belondrade from the V.T Tierra de Castilla. This is a single variety rosé wine, made exclusively with the Tempranillo grape variety.

Bernabe Navarro is the craftsman behind our next wine, La Amistad 2014, a light red wine that almost became a rosé. This wine is produced in Alicante with the native Rojal grape variety, and is aged for 4 months in vats. It is a red wine, but one that will leave you refreshed.

Then there is the Bodegas Marañones with the new vintage of Marañones 2014. This wine is made exclusively with the Grenache grape, a variety native to the Vinos de Madrid region. The winery are experts in working with this variety, producing lights wines without large extractions, making wines from single plots.

4 Kilos 2014 is the new vintage of cuvee from the winery of the same name. This red wine is made exclusively with the Callet grape, a variety native to the Island of Mallorca, that year after year Francesc Grimalt and Sergi Caballero work hard on to understand and interpret it. If you want to get to know the great wine potential offered by the island, then this is a wine simply not to be missed.

Next up from the Montsant we have the new vintage of Venus “La Universal” 2012, a project by Sara Perez and René Barbier. Venus is a wine with the most character by the winery, combining the character offered by the organic treatment of the Grenache, Carignan and Syrah vines, with the complexity offered by the 20 months of ageing.

Finally from Jerez from the Equipo Navazos we have Bota nº61 Amontillado. This wine has remained in La Guita winery, and has gone from Manzanilla Pasada to an Old Amontillado, and is estimated to have an average of 22 years. A wine with a Sanluqueño character that will delight those who enjoy concentrated and slightly saline wines.

 

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Classifying Wines on their Origin and Production

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When speaking about Spanish wines, we´re used to hearing about the “Denominación de Origen”, or DO. Sometimes, we also classify wines as Vinos de Pago or Vinos de Calidad, but what do these classifications actually mean?

In Spain, there are 5 official classifications to help define the quality and origin of a wine: Vinos de Pago, Denominación de Origen, Vinos de Calidad, Vinos de la Tierra and Vinos de Mesa.

denominaciones origen

Let’s begin with Vinos de Pago, perhaps the highest distinction that a wine can be awarded in Spain. This classification is a geographical indication that indicates that the wine is made exclusively with grapes from a specific terroir, home to specific soil compositions and climate. It is a classification that that aims to highlight the personality of a particular terroir and its reflection in the wine.

All of the grapes used for produce a Vino de Pago wine must come from the same estate (Pago in Spanish) or vineyard. The wine must also be produced and stored separately from other wines produced by the same winery, and the origin of the other wines must be different that the same Pago, or plot. Currently, there are 14 wineries in Spain that are able to boast the Vino de Pago classification. Some of the most well-known include Dominio de Valdepusa, Pago Florentino and El Terrerazo.

The next step in classifying the origin of a wine are the known “Denominaciones de Origen”, or DO for short. A DO is a kind of geographical indication which certifies that the grapes come from a specific region, and that the winemaking process is carried out following the regulations and guidelines set by the Regulatory Council of said region. In Spain, there are currently 69 Denominations de Origen, including the Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Bierzo, Toro, Rías Baixes and Jerez.

It is worth noting that two of Spain’s most famed regions are missing from the list, Rioja and Priorat. This is because although they too are technically “Denominaciones de Origen”, they have also infact been awarded slightly higher recognition with the Denominación de Origen Calificada” (DOCa) classification. The main difference between the regular DO’s and a DOCa, is that all of the grapes produced under a DOCa must be used for bottled wine, while grapes cultivated under the DO classification can still be used to produce wine in bulk. Also, a DOCa must set boundaries and distinguish the municipalities that are allowed for produce grapes for winemaking under the DOCa classification.

Following Denominacións de Origen”, the next classification of wine is Vinos de Calidad, which is used for wines that are produced in a specific area with grapes from said area. These regions aspire to be Denominacións de Origen”. There are currently 7 areas that have been awarded this distinction, including, Cangas, Canary Islands and Grenada.

The next classification we have is Vinos de la Tierra, wines that are produced in a region, but without following the winemaking demands of a “Denominación de Origen”.

Finally there are Vinos de Mesa, used for wines that do not have any geographical indication. Winesfromspain has this interesting map where you can find all of the different Denominaciones de Origen, Vinos de Pago y Vinos de Calidad, and their geographical locations in Spain.

mapa-winesfromspain

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