Wine Dictionary: the traits of Verdejo wines and what decanting means
They said that “you can never know too much.” That’s probably why we love every entry in our Wine Dictionary. We’re back with more wine-based vocabulary!
Today, we’re going to learn what decanting wine means and how to do it, what it means if a wine is varietal, what the grape harvest involves and what Verdejo and Viura wines are.
The latest entry in your Wine Dictionary. Let’s get started!
In the world of wine, decanting means to move wine from one container into another, typically in order to separate out the natural sediment that settles on the bottom of the barrel.
During the fermentation process, wine separates out and the lees fall away to the bottom. Decanting is done for two reasons: to oxygenate the wine and to clean it and balance it after getting rid of these sediments.
It is important to decant a wine with the utmost precision, since we need to adjust the amount of oxygen need to oxygenate but not oxidise the product. To do this, we use wine pumps, deposits that control the oxygenation and reduce the loss of aromas in the wine in the process.
Wine decanting normally takes place in spring. When the wine goes to the deposits, the barrels in which it is stored are cleaned with steam and pressurised hot water. In this way, we clear out the pores in the wood so that the micro-oxygenation process can take place properly in the wine. Once this is done, the wine (without the sediments) goes back into each barrel.
Have you ever heard someone refer to a wine as “varietal”? Even though this expression is quite technical and more commonly used among wine experts and sommeliers, its meaning is no mystery. That’s why our Wine Dictionary is here!
A varietal wine is one that has been made with just one variety of grape. Simple, right? In a different post, we referred to the famous coupages, ones that, unlike varietal wines, are made from a blend of different types of grape.
But we should mention that there’s a difference between varietal and monovarietal wines. It’s not the same thing!
For a wine to be listed as varietal, it needs to have at least 80% of one type of grape. This percentage can change depending on the Denomination of Origin of the wine. Monovarietal wines are the purest and most faithful to their grape variety, because they are made 100% of the variety in question.
In this respect, a monovarietal wine could be deemed a varietal (since it contains over 80% of one variety of grape), but a varietal wine cannot be monovarietal (e.g., this would be the case for a wine that was 80% Tempranillo and 20% Graciano).
The grape harvest is one of the most eagerly awaited moments of the year. Specifically, this is the time when we pick the grapes to eventually turn them into wine.
The DOCa Rioja Regulatory Board draws up a guide to give winegrowers recommendations for when to start this process on their crops. In Spain, the grape harvest normally takes place between late August and early October.
Here at El Coto de Rioja, the harvest is a very special time. After months of hard work, our picking teams and expert professionals get to work in this marvellous process for turning grapes into wine. Would you like to learn more about the harvest and how to pick the grapes on our vineyards of over 700 hectares? Click the button below:
When we talk about Verdejo, we're talking about a variety of white grapes. They are commonly grown in central northern Spain (within D.O. Rueda), although it also appears in other areas, such as La Rioja.
This type of grape has intense fruity aromas (apple and citrus) and herbaceous notes. Verdejo grapes are actually perfect for monovarietal wines or for mixing with others, such as Viura (which we will look at below in this Wine Dictionary post) or Sauvignon Blanc.
Our best example of this is, of course, our El Coto Verdejo, grown at Finca Carbonera, this highest vineyards in all of D.O.Ca Rioja.
Viura is another popular variety of white grapes. It’s actually one of the most commonly used ones in La Rioja, even though it's originally from Catalonia.
What’s special about this grape? The most important thing is, without a shadow of a doubt, its versatility for creating coupages with other varieties because it has a medium acidity level. Its aroma is reminiscent of green apples or juicy pears. With Viura and other grape varieties, we create exceptional white wines such as El Coto Semidulce or El Coto Blanco. That latter is also made with Verdejo grapes.
Do you want to learn more? Learn about all the varieties of white grapes that go into our El Coto wines in the article below.
If you want to keep on learning more terminology from the world of wine, don’t forget to take a look at the other posts in our Wine Dictionary.