Carbonic Maceration Wines: Characteristics and Production

Many have heard of the traditional wines of the Rioja Alabesa, although few know the details of their preparation. In this article, we want to talk about carbonic maceration, a process very different from the usual wine process, resulting in fresh, light and sweet wines, very suitably enjoyed at this time of year and when it is warm.

Would you like to discover how carbonic maceration wines are obtained? Well, pay attention, because we’re about to get started!

 maceracionThe bright and beautiful Beaujolais Noveau, produced using carbonic maceraton. By jmsmytaste (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Almost all carbonic maceration wines are wines of the same year, very young wines. The winemaking process ensures that the clusters do not separate the grain and the stem, as is usual, but the entire cluster is placed in large steel tanks or vats, so that clusters below are broken by the weight of the clusters above, releasing the wort, which in contact with the skins of the grapes, starts a traditional fermentation, through the contact of yeast with the sugars in the wort.

During the first fermentation, carbon dioxide is released into the tank, it is then hermetically sealed (hence the name of this type of wine), saturating the atmosphere with CO2. This allows the rest of the grapes, even whole grapes, to ferment precisely due to a lack of oxygen, without necessary contact with the yeast, but due to its own enzymes within the grain. The result is technically known as intracellular fermentation.

After about 8 to 10 days, clusters are fully saturated. Then the wine is run off, the grapes are pressed and undergo a second fermentation, this time in contact with yeasts.

Carbonic maceration wines are typically given as result, with an extra supply of fresh fruit. They are very rich, greedy, light, easy to drink, docile and easy to pair wines.

As we noted above, this method of preparation is very typical of the Rioja Alavesa, but we can also find great wines of carbonic maceration in La Mancha, Yecla, El Bierzo, Toro and Jumilla.

If you do not know the beauty of the wines made by carbonic maceration, do not miss these three recommendations:

Luberri Maceración Carbónica 2014. An excellent example of carbonic maceration at a great price. Fruity, aromatic and very, very fresh.

A mi manera 2014. A more casual, direct and fresh wine from the winemaker Benjamin Romeo. One of the most respected winemakers in Spain, and an award-winning wine with 100 Parker points . A very friendly and juicy wine.

Baigorri Maceración Carbónica 2014. Another phenomenal carbonic maceration made in Samaniego (Rioja Alabesa) by Bodegas Baigorri. A very fruity nose, with a balsamic touch that dazzles. Fresh, fruity and smooth. As it should be.

Dare to try these wines? You will love them!

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