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Primer 2005 – Carbonic Maceration

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), Ísola (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,

Ryan Opaz

Catavino, where we build custom tours in Portugal and tours in Spain. Contact us if you are interested in learning more! We'd love to make your dream trip a reality.

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