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Vintage Chart.

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JRNet
Madrid, Spain
Email: jriis@jrnet.com

Phone: (+34) 913 205 911
Fax: (+34) 913 205 911
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Winemaking Techniques

Modern techniques have made their way into the bodegas. Stainless steel vats and controlled temperatures during fermentation have done a great deal improve the overall quality levels. Some areas do continue to produce their wines with traditional methods which include fermenting and aging in huge clay pots known as "tinajas", or a modern day replacement in the form of reinforced concrete vats.

Rioja

The wines of Rioja are typically built around the Tempranillo grape, traditional production methods and oak. Ageing in oak is one of the key characteristics of the Riojas. Even some of the whites are matured in oak. The technique was brought from Bordeaux in the 19th Century. The 225 liter "barricas" may be new or used, and made of either American or French oak, but they are always an important part of the best Rioja bodegas.

Penedés

Penedés, near Barcelona is one of the quality wine producers in Spain, turning out some fine reds, fruity whites, and first rate sparkling wines. Both native grapes and the better known Cabernets, Pinot Noir, etc. are used by the Penedés bodegeros. White Xarel-lo and Macabeo (Viura) are used in the sparkling "cavas", while the black Ull de Llebra (Tempranillo) and Garnacha, are key ingredients in the reds. The red wines generally spend less time in oak than their Rioja counterparts, and so tend to be less "oaky".

Jerez

Wines from Jerez-Xéres-Sherry are in a class all their own. The special sherry taste is due to the unique production methods used in the bodegas of the Jerez area. The Palomino grape is the main ingredient of the best sherries. The wines are aged in loosely stoppered casks, where a special yeast growth known as "flor" prevents oxidation, while adding that special taste. When the time comes to end the maturing process, the flor is killed of by fortification (the addition of alcohol) and the Jerez is moved to the "solera". The solera is a vertical row of oak casks, designed to gradually mix old wine with new to achieve a consistent final product, year after year. The wine to be bottled is drawn off the bottom row, the casks are topped off with wine from the next row, and so on up to the top where the new wine is added. If you see something like "Solera 1856" on a bottle, this is the year the solera was originally put on line.

Cava

Sparkling wines are clearly the leading wine export from Spain. Known as cava, the best bubbly is produced in a variety of geographic areas under the D.O. Cava. The sparkling wines are generally produced using three distinct methods:

  1. Cava
  2. Bottle-fermented
  3. "Granvás" (fermented in large vats).
Cava, or "traditional method" uses the Champagne method where white wine is subjected to a second fermentation to add bubbles naturally in the bottle.

The bottle-fermented style is made in much the same way, except the bubbly is transferred to a new bottle at the end of the process - it's also known as "transfer method".

The granvás system involves large pressurized vats which hold the wine during the second fermentation - the bubbles do tend to be larger. A fourth class of cheaper sparkling wines add CO2 gas directly to the wine to create the bubbles - these are known as "vino gasificado". If in doubt, you'll find the production method the label, and (just for safe measure) on the bottom of the extracted cork.