SPAIN, Haro : A man pours red wine on a girl’s head during the"Batalla
del Vino" (Battle of Wine) in Haro, on June 29, 2015. Every year
thousands of locals and tourists climb a mountain in the northern
Spanish province of La Rioja to celebrate St. Peter’s day covering each
other in red wine while tanker trucks filled with wine distribute the
alcoholic beverage to water pistols, back mounted spraying devices,
buckets which are randomly poured on heads and into any other available
container. More than nine thousand people threw around 130,000 litres of
wine during this year’s Haro Wine Festival, according to local media.
AFP PHOTO / CESAR MANSO
“Io e te, noi adesso siamo l'ultima goccia di vino nel bicchiere.
Il vetro lascia sempre intravedere una piccola parte di liquido rosso e tu provi continuamente, inutilmente a berlo.
Ti concentri sulla goccia senza accorgerti che il vino è già finito.”
Winemaking is a practice of patience. After harvest, crush, fermentation, blending, adjustments, clarifying and racking the wine must rest, sometimes for years. Much of the wine’s character and structure will continue to develop within the bottle.
The harvest seems magcial as one envisions lush vineyards. The crush excites as the coveted juice is extracted from each grape. Then comes the miracle of fermentation, and the promise of cellars teaming with barrels. At last comes the opening the bottle and pouring a first glass. Between the barrel and the dining room table, there is one final step before bottle aging. Wine that has been tenderly crafted has been sitting in barrel or tank. The wine must now be transferred into bottles. The resting wine is swiftly pumped out of the oak and distributed into bottles on a bottling line. This jolt can create bottle shock causing the wine to taste rather fragmented and muting the wine’s flavors. After bottling, the wine requires time to calm down and reassemble.
Ideally, through a series of tastings, the winemaker decides when the wine is stable and ready to release and roll out for sale. For many large scale wineries the decision to release wine is not always in the hands of the winemaker. Often a wine is released on a schedule that coincides with a predetermined distribution calendar.
What does winemaker Jessica Boone look for before releasing a wine?
“I have a very intimate connection with the wine. I knew it during the growing season. Watched it mature and tasted the flavors of the grapes in the vineyard. Most times, I can remember vividly each day in the fermentation, as it progressed from sweet, fruit juice to a deep and satisfying young wine. Then, tasting it multiple times throughout aging until putting together the final blend. I know exactly how it is supposed to taste. How it showed in the barrel at the final point before bottling. We have to suffer the shock it feels when being closed down and confined in an inert glass container. We wait for signs of its re-emergence. The wine can appear all knees and elbows, sharp edges, non-harmonious curves. The beautiful aroma closed and muted. But bottle-aging is a beautiful thing. When the wine starts to emerge, it shows the beauty of its aroma and the roundness of its palate; then we say it is ready.”
The release date is the earliest the wine is deemed completed but is not an indication of how long the wine can be stored.
Wine lovers, not investing for profit, generally purchase wines that they appreciate. Buying a case or three of a loved wine forces one to start storing or cellaring. This practice means that in a relatively short time one can amass a proper wine collection, which is as exhilarating to reflect upon as it is to drink and share. How long one can cellar a wine varies depending on the quality, varietal, region and vintage. The best way to know how long a wine can be aged (and to learn how the wine may change) is to ask the winemaker, the winery or a Wine Steward.
A premium is charged for aged wines, bottles that have been carefully stored by wine retailers or wine brokers well beyond the wineries release date. Purchasing these wines allows enthusiasts to obtain bottles ready to drink close to their peak. It can be a great way to try a label at its best. In contrast, a sizable number of wine buyers are looking towards futures. Not a traded commodity, buying wine futures allows wine lovers to buy pre-released wines from wineries. This may sound like a gamble but these futures generally come at a lower price point than the released bottle will fetch.
GrapeSeed Partners can take advantage of our Wine Steward service to learn more about selecting their wine for aging, as well as serving their wines. Partners also have access to GrapeSeed wines prior to release (like a future) at pre-release prices.