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Cómo se hace el vino

How Wine Is Made: from Harvest to Bottling

By Sin categorizar

The wine-making process, also known as vinification, turns grape must into wine in various stages from the grape harvest up until bottling and subsequent ageing. Come along with us in this article to discover how wine is made step by step and how we do it at El Coto de Rioja!

Although historical evidence shows that wine has existed since the Neolithic period, but the information we have on wine-making process only dates back to the 8th century BC. At this point, people were already talking about how to care for the grape wines and harvesting and crushing grapes. Over time, the wine-making process became increasingly complex and sophisticated and, even though the process follows some essential steps, each winery has its own personal flair that gives their wines different characteristics.

Tipos de vendimia

The harvest

In Spain, the grape harvest usually takes place between September and October, but it takes place increasingly earlier in the year now due to climate change and drought. We start harvesting our white grapes at the end of August and then start with the red varieties in the first week of September.

Preparation for the grape harvest starts with sampling, in other words, the oenologists take some of the grapes to see if they are ripe enough, and if they have enough sugar and flavour to be harvested. They also check that the pips are well toasted and that the colour of the grape must is right. For harvesting, the grapes need to be dry. It’s also best not to harvest during the hottest hours of the day so that they don’t ferment.

Once the grape harvest starts, the teams of pickers manually cut the bunches of the vines with special scissors. Then, they fill up their baskets and tip them into a tractor to transport the harvest to the winery. The grapes must get to where they will be processed shortly after harvest, otherwise they will ferment and rot.

Here at El Coto de Rioja, the harvest can take a few weeks because we own over 800 hectares of vineyards. If you want to know more about how the vine is prepared throughout the year, we have a series on YouTube where we discuss it in detail.

Uvas de viñedos ecológicos

Wine-making

When the grapes reach the winery, the first step in the wine-making process is destemming, which involves removing the leftover leaves and stems from the grapes. By doing this, we get rid of the acidity and grassy notes from the stem. Then, we move on to the crushing to the grape pulp out. The extraction is done by a machine in a way that doesn’t damage the skins or pips.

Afterwards, the grape must with the skins and pips are pressed to get the remaining juice out and get the yeast that will cause the alcoholic fermentation during the next stage.

Alcoholic fermentation takes place when the sugar in the grape must is turned into alcohol. For this to happen, the grape must is put into stainless steel tanks and the liquid is left to rest for three weeks at a controlled temperature. Depending on the type of wine we’re making, this process may differ slightly. For example, in white wines, the fermentation takes places after extracting the skins and pips, while with red wines they are left in to give them their characteristic colour.

vinos crianza en barrica de El Coto de Rioja

Barrel ageing

Fermentation allows us to turn grape must into wine. But the process doesn’t end there! Now, the wines that will be Crianza, Reserva or Gran reserva wines start their barrel-ageing stage. Each of them needs to be aged for different amounts of time. For example, young wines do not need to be barrel aged, Crianza wines need a maximum of three years, Reserva wines between twenty-four and thirty-six months, and Gran reserva wines need over forty-eight months. During barrel ageing, the wine takes on new aromas and flavours.

Lastly, the best wines are finished off by ageing them in the bottle. During the months they spend on the bottle rack with controlled temperatures and light levels, all of the flavours and aromas of the wood are mingled and rounded off, making the wine harmonic and easy on the palate.

blog de vinos

El Coto de Rioja wines

Here at El Coto de Rioja, we always strive for excellence at every step in the wine-making process. To do this, we have become the winery that owns the most vineyards (all of them in the sub-regions of the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin). Not only that, but we are also committed to innovation and cutting-edge technology. This way, we can ensure that we get an exceptional product every year,

What’s more, we don’t just have one winery, we have twelve, each of which specialises in one part of the process. Do you want to find out more about our spaces? You can see them here.

Did you know that El Coto de Rioja was a trailblazer in planting new white grape varieties approved by the Regulatory Board in 2006 (Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc)? You might be more familiar with our red wines, but we also have the widest range of white wines in Spain.

Discover all of our white wines!
Fermentación del vino

Wine Fermentation: What Is It and What Types Are There?

By Sin categorizar

Fermentation is the phase of the process when must turns into wine. Alcoholic fermentation transforms the sugars from the grapes into alcohol. And fermentation is different for white and red wines. In this post, we’ll explain the basics so you understand the importance of wine fermentation and the different types.

mosto del vino


Winemaking process

Simply put, we can say that alcoholic fermentation is the part of the winemaking process that turns the natural sugars in the grapes into ethyl alcohol. Our fermentation process always starts with destemming the grapes (red and white) to get rid of any leaves and stems.

Then they are pressed, for white grapes, and immediately filtered to separate the must from the skins and seeds so they won’t affect the colour of the finished wine. After that, alcoholic fermentation takes place when the sugar in the must is transformed into alcohol in stainless-steel tanks at a controlled temperature (14 °C-16 °C).

For red wines, the process is similar but the grape skins are left in the must while it ferments in the stainless-steel tanks to extract all the colour compounds, which give these wines their characteristic hue.

The big mystery is rosé wine, which is somewhere between a red and a white. Meaning we use 100% red grapes but, during fermentation, the skins are only left in the must long enough to give it that pink tone.

vinos crianza en barrica de El Coto de Rioja

Importance of yeast in fermentation

This process of turning sugar into ethyl alcohol is done by yeast, either the yeast naturally present on the grapes or selected yeast, which is grown in a lab. Yeast turns the natural sugars from the grapes into ethanol and carbon dioxide. In this case, fermentation doesn’t only create alcohol, it also contributes new aromas and flavours to the wine.

Selected yeast is a component added by oenologists during wine fermentation and there are many types. For example, the natural yeast on the grape skins and yeasts grown in a lab.

 

Sugar is another essential component for wine fermentation. The more sugar, the more alcohol the yeast will produce. However, too much sugar is also bad because it is harder for the yeast to turn it into ethanol and can halt the fermentation, affecting the aromas and flavours of the wine.

Fermentation temperature is another factor that has to be carefully monitored. Depending on this temperature, you get different nuances. Normally, red wine is fermented at a higher temperature than white wine.

Most wines, whether white, rosé or red, are fermented in large stainless-steel tanks, which offer the best hygiene and temperature conditions. However, there are more and more whites and reds that have been fermented in oak barrels. These barrels make the wine buttery and impart the aromas and flavours of the wood.

Barricas El Coto de Rioja

Types of wine fermentation

Many wines undergo more than one fermentation. While the primary fermentation creates alcohol and other compounds that improve the taste, some wines also need a secondary fermentation.

Alcoholic fermentation

As we said earlier, in alcoholic fermentation, yeast on the grapes turns sugars into alcohol naturally. The yeast that carries out the fermentation process is a micro-organism that break down any organic material.

(h3)Malolactic fermentation

Malolactic fermentation is the process in which malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to lactic acid. In red wines, this normally takes place after alcoholic fermentation. This malic acid is what gives some wines their acidity and freshness, like white wines for example.

Bottle fermentation

Sparkling wines have another fermentation process after they are bottled. The oenologists add a combination of sugar and yeast to the wine, which generates carbon dioxide and the characteristic bubbles found in this type of wine.

Carbonic maceration

Also known as whole-bunch fermentation, in this process the grapes are fermented whole. This process is typically used in La Rioja to make young wines.

Destemmed fermentation

In this case, the stems are removed before fermentation. This process tends to be used to avoid any defects in the wine, like grassy notes.

As you’ve seen, wine fermentation is an important step in the winemaking process because it gives this beverage many of the nuances, flavours and aromas you’ll taste later in the finished wine. Did you know the aromas you get when smelling the glass are from the fermentation process? They are what is known as secondary aromas. In the next post, we’ll tell you all about secondary aromas and how to tell them apart.

What are the secondary aromas in wine?
Influencers del vino

8 WINE INFLUENCERS YOU SHOULD KNOW

By Sin categorizar

If you like wine and want to get loads of information, tips and recommendations from other experts on the topic, don’t miss this list of wine influencers. You’ll learn everything you need to know about wine from their social media, blogs and articles in specialised media. Here are some of our favourites.

Influencers del vino

RECOMMENDED WINE INFLUENCERS

@spanishwinelover

The person behind this account is journalist Amaya Cervera, who specialises in wine and works with wine guides and publications. In 2014, she started the Spanish Wine Lover digital magazine, which features renowned national and international experts from the sector. This makes it an important media outlet for wineries and people like you who are reading this post because they want to know more about the topic.

 

 @Josseppituroca

Josep Roca i Fontané is a pre-eminent figure in this sector in Spain. He is the sommelier at El Celler de Can Roca. In 2017, this influencer was granted the Enosofía prize from the Wine Museums Association of Spain (AMVE) for his work to “safeguard, preserve and spread wine culture in all its expressions.” He has more than 62,000 followers on IG. Without a doubt, you should follow this profile for his knowledge of national and international wines.

 

@winefolly

Wine Folly is one of the most well-known international accounts with the most followers on social media, and in the wine world. US native Madeline Pucket, a wine expert, is the face behind this profile. With over 400,000 followers, she tends to post information, infographics, videos with tips and recommendations, and articles about wine culture.

 

@somm_vivant

Amanda McCrossin is a sommelier from California with thousands of followers on IG, YouTube and TikTok. She loves videos with loads of basic, simple tips on how to decant wine or the different ways to open a bottle without a corkscrew, for example. It’s a fun account with a lot of information on the sector internationally.

 

@james.suckling

James Suckling is a US journalist who was editor of the magazine Wine Spectator for 20 years, in addition to being featured in several documentaries on the sector. He is one of the most world-renowned experts on the topic and his recommendations are followed all over the globe. You can follow him on IG and his digital magazine JamesSuckIing.com.

Perfil de IG de El Coto de Rioja

More wine experts

@winesandthecity

This profile is run by Spanish sommelier and communicator Meritxell Falgueras. A regular collaborator with specialised media outlets, she has published four books on wine and her social media is full of tasting notes and simple wine tips. Her motto is #ConVinoConTodo (#WineWithEverithing), which is also the name of one of her books.

 

@sumillercampo

Javier Campo is a famous sommelier who also does important dissemination work in the sector. He works with several media outlets and is also a food advisor and trainer. A member of the Spanish Association of Wine Journalists and Writers, he has over 36,000 followers on IG, plus an eponymous blog.

 

@ferrancentelleswine

Ferrán Centelles is a Catalan sommelier who trained with Ferran Adriá at El Bulli, where he worked for many years. He is the Spanish representative of prestigious wine critic Jancis Robinson. Another wine expert you should follow to learn all the latest news in the sector.

And last but not least, our own IG profile: @cotoderioja. We not only have information on our winery and wines but also work tireless to bring you posts and videos on pairings, tasting notes and easy tips that you may like to learn more about wines. In fact, we even have some wine classes you might like. Here they are:

What are the flavours in wine?WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY AROMAS IN WINE?
vino blanco semidulce El Coto Semidulce

SEMI-SWEET WHITE WINE: HOW IS IT MADE AT WHAT DOES IT PAIR WITH?

By Sin categorizar

When summer comes around, semi-sweet wine is the order of the day for aperitifs and alfresco meals. Its sweetness with a slight bitter kick, just like in dry wines, make it the perfect candidate for these balmy afternoons. This article will give you the chance to pick up some interesting facts about this kind of wine.

vino blanco semidulce El Coto Semidulce

HOW DO WE MAKE SEMI-SWEET WHITE WINE?

The wine-making process for semi-sweet wine is very similar to any other white wine. However, the main difference is in the fermentation process. When it comes to traditional white wine, fermentation continues until all of the sugars are used up, and when it comes to a semi-sweet white wine, fermentation is stopped in order to leave a certain quantity of sugar. We can use any variety of white grapes to make this kind of wine. 

For example, our El Coto Semidulce, is made using Chardonnay grapes. These grapes are cold-pressed and protected from oxygen in the air using dry ice; and the must is fermented separately at a controlled temperature that never exceeds 16 °C.  

Once we reach a balance between aromas and sugars, alcoholic fermentation is halted. That’s how we get that special sweetness and freshness when tasting this wine. It’s worth mentioning that this sweetness never comes from added sugars.  

HOW TO PAIR SEMI-SWEET WINES

When it comes to pairing food with any kind of wine, remember that you want to boost the flavour of both of them, not to mask one of them. 

When it comes to semi-sweet wines, the amount of residual sugar that they contain will noticeably affect the choice of dish for pairing with them. We recommend pairing this type of wine with nuts, olives or any kind of pickled product, because a smooth wine like this creates a pleasant contrast with the sour and salty flavours of these kinds of snacks. El Coto Semidulce pairs perfectly with starters and aperitifs, as well as cheese boards, fruit and desserts.  

A delicately sweet white wine also goes really well with light cheeses such as Burgos cheese, ricotta, mozzarella and feta. When it comes to desserts, ones that are cheese-, egg- or fruit-based, as well as flans and fruity ice-creams pair perfectly with this type of wine.  

Did you know that there’s now a trend for pairing sushi with sparkling wines and semi-sweet wines? They help to cleanse the palate of the lingering fishy taste so that you can enjoy the next bite even more. We particularly recommend them for pairing this delicacy with white Chardonnay wines. 

maridaje de vinos blancos semidulces

Now that you know how to correctly pair a semi-sweet white wine, you can get daring this summer with a unique flavour combination. If you’re interested in finding out more about white wines and pairing, take a look at this article with recipes: 

8 recipes that go with white wine
A qué temperatura tomar el vino blanco

WHAT TEMPERATURE TO DRINK WHITE WINE AT?

By Sin categorizar

The summer heat is now upon us, and that means the traditional drinks for the season are taking centre stage, such as white wine. Just imagine a nice cold glass on your favourite terrace. It can’t get better than that, right? Well, in this article, we want to tell you what temperature your white wine should be at so that you can enjoy your refreshing and flavour-packed #WhiteWineSummer.

As a rule of thumb, white wines should be served very cold to take the edge off of their acidity and alcohol content. If these wines get to warm, their excess alcohol content might become more noticeable.  

However, the serving temperature can vary if it is a fruity wine, or and aged ones or one with toasted notes. In this article, we want to tell you about the right serving temperature for white wine depending on the type of wine. You could also enlist the help of a special wine thermometer to get it right every time! 

Una paella maridada con El Coto Blanco

YOUNG WHITE WINES

Young white wines go perfectly with lighter dishes. The most notable feature of these wines is the wine-making process, since they aren’t barrel aged. Young wines are made in the same year that the grapes are picked and are sometimes known as ‘yield wines’.  

Depending on the variety of grape used to make them and the wine-making process used, these wines might be more acidic or sweeter. As such, the perfect serving temperature should be between 6 °C and 10 °C. What’s more, young wines with floral or fruity flavours should also be served cold.  

El Coto Blanco is a fresh white wine with aromas of white fruits with a fresh citrus kick. The serving temperature for this type of wine is between 7 °C and 8 °C. You can pair it with seafood and paellas.  

CRIANZA WHITE WINES

Crianza white wine has been aged for 18 months, 6 of which must have been in the barrel. We could say that the serving temperature for this type of wine should also go up in line with the amount of time spent in the barrel. The ideal serving temperature would be between 10 °C and 12 °C. 

The temperature has a direct influence on how we perceive the aromas of the wine. So, in this case, the best thing to do it to serve it in a way that helps to enjoy them. However, you need to bear in mind that if the wine is too warm, it could boost the alcohol content and increase the sting of the wine.  

Specifically, our 875 m Chardonnay is a wine that should be served at this temperature (between 10 °C and 12 °C). It is made using Chardonnay grapes and goes perfectly with fish and rice stews, and with seafood in general. Barrel fermentation makes this wine particularly silky and gives it complex aromas.  

Discover our huge range of white wines
Coto de Imaz Blanco
Vino verdejo características y curiosidades

Other tips for consuming white wine

To enjoy a white wine in the hotter months, make sure you don’t leave it in direct sunlight, even if it is in an ice bucket. Sunlight can damage the wine and change its flavour. It’s also not a great idea to put ice in your wine.  

When you buy a white wine or rosé, the best idea is to store it in the fridge. If you have bought a bottle of wine on the same day that you want to drink it, leave it in the fridge for at least two hours, or in the freezer for half an hour. Another way to chill a wine quickly is to put it in an ice bucket.  

 When it comes to sparkling wines, the best idea is to serve them very cold. To get the right temperature, you can leave it in the freezer for an hour. If you’re short on time, you can put the bottle in an ice bucket for half an hour. Once you open the wine, you need to keep it cool. 

If this article was useful for you, we suggest reading this one on how to store wine at home to keep it in perfect condition for longer.

How to store wine at home?
vino verdejo

VERDEJO WINE: CHARACTERISTICS AND FUN FACTS

By Sin categorizar

We usually use the word verdejo” to refer to white wines made from grapes of the verdejo variety. These grapes are famous because they’re the key ingredient for smooth, fresh wines with a certain sour flair. Keep reading to learn more about this grape variety and learn some little-know fun facts about this type of white wine. Did you know that we use Verdejo grapes to make wine in La Rioja? 

vino blanco de uva verdejo

VERDEJO WHITE WINE: FUN FACTS

The hottest months of the year are nearly upon us, and white wine is the order of the day to go with our apéritifs, lunches and dinners. They’re ideal wines and really tantalising for a good sip over the coming months. For a white wine to be called a Verdejo, it needs to be made only using these grapes or with at least 85% of them.  

What stands out about these wines is their smoothness, fruitiness and freshness. The colour of Verdejo white wine is generally straw yellow with green shimmers, both clean and bright. In the mouth, we get nuances of fresh herbs and a slight bitter flair, which makes them even more tantalising and really easy on the palate.  

THE VERDEJO GRAPE AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS

The white Verdejo grape variety is the result of crossing white castellana grapes and traminer grapes, which come from Italy. The most notable of their main characteristics are the following:  

Compared with other varieties, they have smaller bunches, and they take on a greenish yellow tone when they ripen. Their translucent skin allows us to see the pips inside them when lit from behind.   

They are one of the most important crops in Spain. These grapes can grow in dry climates, even in soil that is not necessary very fertile. Even though this variety is native to the Rueda Designation of Origin, it still grows in areas that fall within DOCa Rioja.   

Currently, while used to create young wines, the Verdejo grape is also used to create crianza wines, since the structure of the grape allows for barrel fermentation and barrel ageing.

uva variedad verdejo
vino blanco verdejo El Coto Verdejo

EL COTO VERDEJO

For a little summer tipple, either with your family or friends, we recommend having a bottle of El Coto Verdejo on hand. It is thought to be the first monovarietal white Verdejo wine to be produced in the Rioja Designation of Origin; in other words, it’s the first one to be made exclusively using Verdejo grapes.  

Just after harvesting, the stalks are removed and the grapes are cold macerated and gently pressed in the winery, ensuring that they don’t come into contact with oxygen in the pre-fermentation process. Once the full fermentation process gets started, it takes place at 16 degrees centigrade to extract all of the grapes’ aromatic potential.  

The vineyard is located in Finca Carbonera, one of the highest vineyards in the DOCa Rioja. If you love seafood, El Coto Verdejo is the perfect pairing for your feasts from the sea. It’s best to serve it at a temperature between 7 and 8 degrees centigrade.  

¡Prueba El Coto Verdejo!

Now that you know the main characteristics of verdejo white wine, why not take a look at this article on different types of white wine? You can learn all about how they are classified and find the best one for your tastes. 

Types of white wine
Tipos de vino

TYPES OF WINES AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS

By Sin categorizar

In this article, you’ll find information about all types of wine that exist and the main characteristics that set them apart. This is your chance to learn more about wine and discover its different aromas and flavours and how to pair it with your favourite dishes. 

Before it reaches your mouth, wine has to go through a long process. It’s true that we’ve discussed this in other articles, such as when we spoke about the different stages of the grapevine, which is an important process because it’s where it all starts. However, just focussing on this information isn’t enough to understand what the different types of wine are and their characteristics. 

Below, we’re going to take a look into the different classifications of wines according to three different analytical parameters: colour, sugar content and vintage. 

Tipos de vino por su color

WINE CLASSIFICATION BY COLOUR

  • Red Wine 

This is the most popular wine among consumers around the world. Its colour comes from the use of red grapes during the wine-making process in which contact with the grape skin and pips plays a fundamental role in giving its characteristic dark tone.    

For example, our Coto Real Reserva is made using red grapes of the Tempranillo variety, a very common grape in Spain which has become one the top grape for making red wine in the country.   

  • White Wine  

The ingredient that sets these wines apart is the grape must (the grape juice that may contain skins and seeds), regardless of whether they’re white or red. If the latter are used, there is one condition: they can have a coloured pulp and they can’t be macerated with their pomace (the grape skin). The must without grape skin is what gives the wine its clear yellow tone. 

  • Rosé Wine 

It’s not easy to create this pink colour. The process can take hours and it’s done using the must of certain carefully selected grapes. This must is left to macerate for a period of time. The colour of the wine can vary between purple or pale pink.  

WINES BY SUGAR CONTENT

  • Dry and Semi-Dry Wine  

Dry wines contain under 4 grams of sugar per litre, and semi-dry wines must contain under 18 grams. These wines are given this name due to the naturally occurring sugars in the grapes being turned into alcohol in the fermentation process. However, we use varieties of grapes with low levels of sweetness to make these wines.   

  • Semi-Sweet and Sweet Wine  

Semi-Sweet wines contain up to 45 grams of sugar per litre, and sweet wines can have over 50 grams. Wines of this type have a very specific aroma. Even though these wines have a higher sugar content, they don’t necessarily have a specifically sweet taste, but rather we perceive them as less bitter and sour than dry wines.  

They are made using a must with a high sugar content. For example, El Coto Semidulce is a white wine made using chardonnay grapes with aromas of pineapple and citrus fruit. It works really well with starters and apéritifs and also goes amazingly with cheese and fruit.  

Tipos de vino según su color

TYPES OF WINE BY VINTAGE

If we want to classify a wine, one of the main aspects we need to consider is its age. We work out this aspect using the vintage, which means the year in which the grape was harvested and the time ageing in the barrel or bottle. These times will vary depending on the designation of origin that the winery belongs to. 

El Coto Crianza Selección Viñedos
  • Young 

These wines stay true to the essence of the grapes used to make them and are also known as yield wines. One feature that makes these wines stand out from the rest is that they are not barrel aged, and they are bottled as soon as the fermentation process is complete. 

  • Crianza 

These wines have been aged for at least 24 months, 6 of which must have been in a wooden barrel.  

When it comes to DOCa Rioja red wines, they must be aged for at least three years, with at least one year in the barrel. For white wines, the DOCa stipulated that the wines must be aged in the barrel for at least six months.   

  • Reserva 

Reserve wines need to be aged for a maximum of 3 years. During this time, they need to be stored in an oak barrel for at least 12 months and in the bottle for at least 6 months.  

For DOCa Rioja, reserve wines must be aged for at least three years, one of which must be in an oak barrel, followed by bottle ageing of at least six months. For white wines, the DOCa states that the ageing period must be two years, six months of which must be in the barrel. Wines of this type stand out because of their appearance because they lose all of the colour that a young wine has. 

  • Gran Reserva 

These wines are aged for at least five years. During this period, they must spend at least two years in an oak barrel and 2 years in the bottle. For white wines, the ageing time is four years, of which six months must be in the bottle. You can tell Gran Reserva red wine from its orange tones or, for white wines, they dark golden tones.  

CLASSIFICATION OF WINES BY WINE-MAKING PROCESS

Lastly, there’s one other category that we can use for wine, which is the wine-making process, since this gives the wines different nuances, aromas and flavours. 

Leaving the stalks in:

  • Carbonic maceration.  This is a very traditional process that has been used in the Rioja for many years. What makes it different is that the entire bunches of grapes are put in the vat, which generates a greater amount of carbon due to the stalk of the bunch. This wine-making method leads to very distinctive wines. 

No stalks:  in other words, with just the grapes 

  • Late harvest. The grapes are harvested later than usual to get sweeter wines. This means that the grapes start to dry out and have more concentrated sugar.   
  • Selective harvest. As the name would suggest, this involves meticulously selecting the grapes to make top-quality wines.  
  • Sparkling wines. These wines contain naturally occurring carbon dioxide because they are fermented for much longer than normal wines.  
Uvas

If you found this information interesting, you might want to find out why barrel ageing is so important for wines.  Feeling curious? 

Types of wine barrels
Diferencia entre crianza y reserva

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRIANZA AND RESERVA WINES

By Sin categorizar

How we classify a wine as either a Crianza or a Reserva can vary depending on the characteristics of the grapes used to make it and the time it spends in the barrel. In other words, depending on the amount of time the wine is left to age. However, there is no one sole factor used to classify them around the world; the parameters used in Spain are not the same ones as in other regions. They can even differ depending on the designation of origin. As part of the DOCa Rioja, we want to tell you what requirements we have to follow when making our Crianza and Reserva wines.

WHAT IS A CRIANZA WINE?

The Crianza ageing process works in two ways: in an oak barrel and in the bottle. When it comes to red wines, in order for them to be in this category, the DOCa stipulated that the wines should be aged for three years, and at least one of these years must have been barrel ageing.   

It’s a different matter for white wines and rosés because, unlike with red wines, there is a shorter ageing time. For these wines to be classified as a Crianza, they need to spend 18 months ageing at the winery, six of which must be in wooden barrels. These wines can be sold after the second year.  

THE CRIANZA WINES OF EL COTO DE RIOJA

When it comes to El Coto de Rioja’s Crianza wines, we add our own special touch by leaving them to age for 6 months in the bottle to make smoother and well-rounded wines. Of course, this is not a Designation requirement, and not all wineries do it; but we’ve shown that this creates wines that are far easier to drink and are loved by a wide range of wine drinkers. 

The Coto Crianza is a prime example of this. It’s a versatile wine made with Tempranillo grapes. On the palate, it’s silky and lingering, blending vanilla flavours with the iconic aromas of scorched oak. It’s perfect for pairing with fish, cheese and Iberian pork products.  

WHAT IS A RESERVA WINE?

If you thought that the maturing and ageing times were pretty long, they’re nothing compared to the process that a Reserva wine has to go through. 

For a wine to be classified as a Reserva, it needs to be aged for at least three years between bottle and barrel, and at least one of these years must be in the barrel, followed by at least 6 months in the bottle. For white wines, the ageing is two years, with at least six months in the barrel. 

For example, our Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco is aged for 12 months in French oak barrel, one of the most popular types of barrels up until now. It respects the fruity and floral aromas of the Chardonnay grapes, which makes the wine a perfect match for red meat dishes.  

Vino Reserva Coto de Imaz
Barricas El Coto de Rioja

WHY DOES WINE NEED TO BE BARREL AGED?

This process takes place in order to achieve or improve certain qualities in the wine. The barrel has one crucial role: to provide new flavours and different aromas. Once the fermentation process is complete, the wine is stored in barrels where it will undergo changes to its chemistry and structure which, as we mentioned, give the wine specific characteristics, aromas and flavours. Here in DOCa. Rioja, we almost always use 225-litre barrels. 

But these aren’t just any old barrels. These containers need to be made out of oak, because it’s the only variety of wood that respects all the nuances of the wines. The newer the barrel, the more it can bring to the wine. That’s why, here at El Coto de Rioja, we always retire our barrels after no longer than 6 years.   

What’s better: a Crianza or a Reserva?

This is a common question among wine lovers, and we want to give you the most objective answer possible. In general, Reserva wines are considered to be of higher quality than Crianzas, specifically because they are aged for longer and due to the characteristics of the grapes used to make them. However, there is no universal rule that states that a Crianza is better than a Reserva, because it doesn’t just depend on the wine itself, but also on other factors. That said, the most important thing is the personal tastes of each person. 

Even though a Crianza has been aged for a shorter time, it doesn’t mean it’s worse quality. In general, Crianza wines give use more freshness than Reservas and, to generalise quite a bit, they have a wider range of flavours directly from the grape and the soil than from the time spent in the barrel. 

comprar online vinos de rioja el coto en tienda barón de ley

We hope that we’ve been able to clear up some of your doubts about the differences between Crianza and Reserva wines. Why not take a look at some other articles on our blog that discuss the Rioja Designation of Origin, one of the most prestigious wine-growing regions in the world?

Everything you need to know about the Rioja Designation of Origin
Qué es un vino ecológico

WHAT IS AN ORGANIC WINE?

By Sin categorizar

Organic wines are starting to make their presence felt in the wine-making industry, both in Spain and abroad. Producers are seeking to offer wine-lovers a responsible, sustainable and eco-friendly option. Come with us to find out what an organic wine is and how to tell one apart from a conventional wine.  

Características del vino ecológico

CHARACTERISTICS OF ORGANIC WINE

For a wine to be deemed organic, it needs to meet a series of requirements that cover the fertilised used for the soil, the sulphites it contains and the raw materials used to make the wine.  

 These are the main characteristics of an organic wine: 

  • Natural fertiliser: this can be plant-based, such as pomace or ground up vine shoots, or animal-based, such as manure.  
  • Clarification techniques: this technique involves adding a substance to wine that draws all of the elements to the bottom that had been left in suspension during the wine-making process. These clarifying agents must be certified as organic and comply with the legislation   
  • Labelling: within the organic farming framework, they must have a certificate from the relevant institutions. 
  • Sulphites: when it comes to adding sulphites to organic wine, producers must follow a strict control process. As such, there is a maximum level of sulphites allowed for organic wines, which is 100mg/litre for red wine and 150mg/litre for white wine.  

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC AND REGULAR WINE

Some conventional wines are made using environmentally friendly processes. However, what sets organic wine apart from the rest is that these eco-friendly practices are implemented all along the production chain, and not just when it comes to growing the grapes, using only a limited range of permitted products.   

To tell an organic wine apart from the rest, you need to look at the certification on the label. This way, you can be sure that the product in your hand complies with regulations for organic products. 

Moreover, as we mentioned before, there is a difference between the sulphites that can be added to an organic wine and the ones for regular wine. The restriction for organic wines is set at 150 mg/l, while a regular wine could contain up to 200 mg/l. 

Diferencia entre un vino ecológico y uno normal
El Coto Ecológico

EL COTO ORGANIC: OUR SUSTAINABLE WINE!

This wine is not just made from grapes grown according to strict organic parameters: all of the material used to create the bottles and the labels were selected according to sustainable criteria.  

El Coto Organic tasting notes 

We made out El Coto Crianza Organic 2019 at our certified installations following EU organic legislations. It is a versatile wine with an intense ruby colour. In the nose it has aromas of red fruits with a balsamic flair. In the mouth, we find a vibrant acidity with polished and agreeable tannins. An ideal wine for pairing meat and rice dishes, stews or a cheese board. 

Now that you know what an organic wine is, we suggest finding out more about our El Coto Crianza Organic, a wine that was born out of El Coto de Rioja’s hard work, since we’ve been developing initiatives to reduce our environmental impact for years.  

 

Discover our El Coto Crianza Organic
Qué son los sulfitos del vino

WHAT ARE SULPHITES IN WINE?

By Sin categorizar

If you’ve ever noticed a label that says “contains sulphite” when opening a bottle of wine, and that’s caught your attention, in this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the topic. Learn more about what sulphites are in wine, what they do and the levels of sulphites in organic wines.  

Los sulfitos del vino

SULPHITES IN WINE: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Sulphites are a variant of sulphur oxides, primarily sulphur dioxide (SO₂), which are naturally produced during the fermentation process of the yeasts in the wine. SO₂ is used in a lot of the food products that we consume to stop them from losing their nutritional properties and conserve them over time.   

All wines contain naturally-produced sulphites. However, most of them are added during the wine-making process. We should mention that there are guidelines in the main wine-producing countries that limit the use of sulphites to low levels.  

We want to start this article by telling you that there’s no need to worry: very low levels, such as those used in the wine-making process are harmless.  

AMOUNT OF ADDED SULPHITES ACCORDING TO TYPE OF WINE

We’re going to give you a quick run-down of the most common wines on the market so that you can know how many added sulphites they contain. Even though we mentioned that all wines contain sulphites, they don’t all contain the same amount. Let’s take a look! 

  • RED WINE: these wines contain a lower amount of added sulphites. Red wines contain around 150 mg/l.  
  • WHITE WINES: dry whites contain a moderate dose, while semi-sweet and sweet white wines have the largest amount. These kinds of wines contain around 200 mg/l. 

In turn, wine that have low acidity levels need a greater amount of sulphites to ensure that they are conserved correctly since their structure is less stable. Wines with high sugar levels (off-dry wines, sweet wines, fortified wines, late-harvest wines) tend to need more sulphites than other wines. The added sulphites prevent a second fermentation of the residual sugars in the bottle.  

Wines with lower level of added sulphites are the ones that have a high alcohol content. These additives are necessary for sterilisation, but they only need a very low dose.  

 

Cantidad de sulfitos en el vino
Para qué sirven los sulfitos del vino

WHAT SULPHITES DO IN WINE

Adding sulphites to wine is a practice that dates back to many years ago. In the mediaeval period, many spices and honey were added to wine to mask the vinegary flavour that occurred over time. What’s more, wine-makers in Ancient Rome used to burn candle wicks made with sulphur in amphorae that contained wine.  

By burning the wick (thus creating sulphur dioxide), they stopped the wine turning into vinegar. This is what we mentioned at the beginning, sulphur dioxide (SO₂) helps to conserve the product; otherwise, the wine would turn into vinegar. SO₂ additives in the fermentation process helps to get rid of certain bacteria and yeasts, ensuring that there is a microbiological balance.  

  • Preservative: sulphites protect wine against oxidation when it comes into contact with air.  
  • Antiseptic and Antifungal Agent: sulphites can stop certain kinds of fungus from growing. They are used to disinfect the barrels by killing off bacteria and moulds. 
  • Stabiliser and Controller: they boost the best yeast and block the other ones. 
  • Solvent and Fining Agent: they accelerate the decomposition process in the fruit, boosting the release of tannins and aromas. 

Added sulphites can also stop the wine from losing its aromas, helping the product to develop better over time. So, now you know what sulphite are and the role they play in the wine-making process. But we’re not done yet! We want to tell you what happens with sulphites in organic wines. Keep reading! 

DO ORGANIC WINES CONTAIN SULPHITES?

Without sulphites, it would be almost impossible to conserve wine. Organic wines do contain added sulphites. Only wines that state that they are “No sulfites added” or “sulfite-free on their label contain just the naturally occurring ones. These wines are known as natural wines. In this case, the legal limit is 100-120 mg/l. 

Have you heard about the launch of our new El Coto Crianza Organic 2019? This wine is made out of grapes from ecological agriculture, using eco-friendly wine-making methods and avoiding synthetic chemical products. Learn more about how we make this wine by following this link! 

If you found this article on sulphites in wine interesting, we recommend reading this article that discusses why wines get pricked. 

Why wines get pricked
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