Finca Montepedroso: Aged On The Lees!

The term ‘Crianza’ is used to denote the ageing of wines in oak barrels and in bottles. That is how it is defined by Spanish legislation.  This word stipulates the minimum periods of time a wine must remain in the barrel in order to be able to feature the term ‘Crianza’ on its label and the use of oak recipients of a certain capacity (up to 330 litres, although the most commonly used are Bordeaux barrels containing 225 litres).

The regulations are basic, in other words, they are binding on the entire country, even though certain regions or designations of origin can be more restrictive (they insist on more time) when permitting the use of traditional ageing classifications, as is the case of the Rioja region. However, oenology is progressing faster than the law and it is increasingly common to use barrels made of different species with greater capacities.  Currently, 500-litre barrels are being used a lot which does not comply with the laws in force.

In this respect, ageing is also carried out using other materials such as chestnut wood, acacia wood, in concrete, eggs or tanks, in stainless steel or even in earthenware amphorae. This is still ageing in the sense that the process varies the character of the wine with the objective of improving it through maturing or ageing.  Even though, these new materials are not currently regulated by law and, as such, the wines are marketed with a generic back label.

At Familia Martínez Bujanda we like to define our white wine, Finca Montepedroso, as a wine that is aged in contact with fine lees. We do not use wood in producing the wine because we believe that the freshness and rusticity of the Verdejo varietal would be masked although there are numerous instances in the Rueda region of barrel ageing.  Instead we carry out an unusual process which also means that Finca Montepedroso is not exclusively a young wine, but evolves and grows in complexity in the bottle during the two or three years after it is bottled.

The lees are the sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank once alcoholic fermentation is complete. The fine lees remain in suspension after mixing the wine and, basically, are yeast cells from the end of alcoholic fermentation and yeasts and lactic bacteria from malolactic fermentation. The thick lees must be removed since they can transfer slight sulphurous aromas, herbaceous notes or undesirable microorganisms to the wine. That said, care must also be taken when working with the fine lees because, if we allow them to become compressed, they could impart those undesirable aromas.  For this the technique known as ‘batonnage’ is used which basically involves keeping the lees in suspension so that they do not become compacted at the bottom.

The effects of ageing on Finca Montepedroso are numerous: it improves longevity, softens astringency, makes the wine more persistent and gives us greater volume and unctuosity in the mouth, improves stability and protects the wine from oxidation; the greatest enemy of white wines.

In short, ageing, as we have seen with different methods and materials, is a delicate process. The objective of which is to give different characteristics to a wine. The starting point is a wine that is suitable for consumption, the qualities of which will be improved.




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The wine after Familia Martinez Bujanda

Entre Vinos y Pagos is the blog where we show you the wine culture and our philosophy of elegant wines. Wines from our different plots in Finca Valpiedra, Finca Antigua, Finca Montepedroso, Viña Bujanda and Cosecheros y Criadores.

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