Carbonic Maceration: A winemaking technique used to produce light, fruity red wines with a distinctive character. This definition taken from Answers.com goes on to explain the process with which this “light fruity wine” is made. Last month, I wrote about my experience drinking a Carbonic Macerated Spanish wine, terrified that I had found a Beaujolais Nouveau like wine with simple fruit and lacking in character. However, I concluded with a bit of astonishment that although the wine was relatively simple, it was actually quite interesting – shattering my previous assumptions that all CM wines mirrored one another.
Since then, I have done a bit of research on Carbonic Maceration in Spain and have discovered that this form of winemaking is more prevalent than I once thought. Often times it is used in part to add some fruit to a wine that is made the “old fashioned” way – blending back a small percentage of CM into a wine that might need a little extra fruit.
Intriguingly, not a week after my first experience with a Spanish wine made with Carbonic Maceration, I received an invitation to a wine tasting of approximately 33 different bodegas all showcasing their “new” Carbonic Macerated wines of 2005. With a longer than usual growing season, bodegas were really pushing their limits with only a few weeks from harvest to the final bottling.
In fact, many of the bodegas that I spoke with had actually been bottling the day before the event. While this may appear as if the wines were literally forced for consumption, I have to admit, my expectations were surpassed. The wines were for the most part interesting, complex and mere shadows of the infamous light French Beaujolais Nouveaus. Using grapes as diverse as Albariño and Monastrell, I was delighted to find wines that not only showed character but kept me interested. This might be due in part to the unusual growing season that was witnessed across Spain, where temperatures reached extremes and water was a scarce commodity. Grapes had an abnormally rich profile just coming off the vines.
Some say that the “first” tasting of a new vintage can tell you something about the wines produced in the coming months. This is true to an extent. You can get an idea about the ripeness of the grape and gauge acidity levels, but you will rarely find tannin in a wine made by CM. In fact, when employing Carbonic Maceration, tannin is not a factor due to the fermentation of the grape from the inside out – giving wines little or no structure and thus a short shelf life. Intriguingly, I found that several of the CM wines showed a large amount of tannins more than I would have previously thought.
Part of the event included a chance for invitees to vote on the wines that they liked best. With this voting came the chance to have your wine moved on to a final evaluation to take place in March. The twelve winners of this first round, are Azul
(Estancia Piedra), D. Pedro de Soutomaior (Adegas Galegas), Eneas (Muga), Erre punto R. (Bod. F. Remírez de Ganuza), Hollera Monje (Bod, Monje), ÃƒÂsola (Mont-Reaga), Luberri (Luberri Monje Amestoy), Luis Alegre (Bod. Luis Alegre), Macià Batle (Macià Batle), Primero (Fariña), Viña Norte (Insulares Tenerife) y Viña Urbezo (Solar de Urbezo). One particular bodega I would like to draw attention to was Macía Batle from the Island of Mallorca. Although it was their first time entering the event, they came out on top of the voting. What makes this even more interesting is that they are located on the Balearic islands a region that is really starting to be worth noticing. Recently I’ve been tasting more of these wines and I have to say that if you get a chance make sure to check them out.
In the end none of the wines tasted set off fireworks and sirens in my head. Though I will say that I won’t be so quick to pass them over when I see them arrive in the stores at the end of the year. I would say out of the 33 producers showcased at least half had wines that I would be proud to serve at my house with “wine geek” friends. Now the question comes will we one day see them flown to countries abroad to be opened with the fanfare reserved only for Mr. Jadot!
Till next time,
- 2005 Macía Batle Binissalem-Mallorca Maceración Carbónica – Spain, Balearic Islands, Binissalem-Mallorca (1/11/2006)
60% Mantonegro, 30% Syrah, 10% Merlot 14% alcohol
Lighter in color. The nose shows as a earthy mix of candied raspberry and dried bananas. Light sparkle in the mouth with good acidity. Flavors of black cherry, and light spice give a light feeling in the mouth with a touch of mild tannins on the finish. Nice little wine.
- 2005 Agribergidum Bierzo Fructus – Spain, León, Bierzo (12/19/2005)
Maroonish Red in color. The nose shows rich fruit with earthy anise and graham cracker. Good acidity with some tannin presence. The palate is cherry, pepper, earth and raspberry. A bit hollow on the finish but at the very end the spiciness lingers.
- 2005 Bodegas 1890 Jumilla Mayoral – Spain, Levante, Jumilla (12/19/2005)
Nose is of charcoal with some barnyard and bug spray aromas. Rich acidity and med tannins give way to more flavors of sour fruit, barnyard, and some cranberry.
- 2005 Bodegas Ecológica Bruno Ruiz Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla – Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla (12/19/2005)
70% Airen 30% Chardonnay
Nose shows citrus, mushroom and light mineral. Dry with a medium acidity. The palate is filled with walnut, citrus, and peach. A bit thin, but very tasty.
- 2005 Bodegas Ecológica Bruno Ruiz Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla RV Ruiz Villanueva – Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla (12/19/2005)
Nose of raspberry, banana and light anise. Soft in the mouth with a strong acidity. The flavors are more subtle than the nose but mimick them well.
- 2005 Don Pedro de Soutomaior Albariño Rías Baixas Macerado en neve Carbónica – Spain, Galicia, Rías Baixas (12/19/2005)
Very clear with a nose of citrus and flowers. Bone dry in the mouth with a high acidity. The palate reminds me of Harrelson apples I used to pick as a child in Minnesota, followed by citrus, and fresh peach flesh. Crisp and refreshing, really a fun wine.
- 2005 Fernando Remírez de Ganuza Rioja Erre punto R. – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja (12/19/2005)
Brilliant color, very dark. Nose shows strawberry, banana, cherry, anise, black pepper, and a slight weediness. In the mouth strong acidity is followed by light tannins. Flavors of anise, black fruit, banana peal, and some cherry. Surprisingly good.
- 2005 Isola de Mont Reaga Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla ÃƒÂsola – Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla (12/19/2005)
Tempranillo and Syrah blend.
Dark and purple in color the nose shows rich chocolate, black raspberry and balsamic notes. Fully dry with a big mouth feel and firm tannins. Flavors of black and raspberries fill the mouth.
- 2005 Tapón de Oro Vinos de Madrid Tinto Maceración Carbónica – Spain, Madrid, Vinos de Madrid (12/19/2005)
60% Garnacha 40% Tempranillo
Dark in color the nose shows chocolate, wood, and herbal notes. Medium high tannins and a firm acidity. The palate is blackberry, cherry, and chocolate. Very rich for a “young” wine.