Wine Dictionary: Find out about Joven Wines and Magnums (J – L – M)
New month and, of course, a new instalment of our Wine Dictionary! Want to expand your wine vocabulary? We’re taking a look at the most popular concepts and words from this world to help make you an expert. This time round, its letters J, L and M.
Joven, legs, lees, maceration and magnum are our 5 words for this edition. Are you familiar with them? Don’t miss all their characteristics and oddities. Here we go!
This is the first of four wine categories by ageing. And, unlike the rest of the groupings (Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva), a wine classified as Joven hasn’t been aged at all. This means, after it has finished fermenting, it is bottled in its first or second year and released directly for consumption.
Young wines typically maintain more fresh primary attributes and are less full and more fruit-forward than the rest. This makes them less astringent and they stand out for having great aromas.
You’ve probably seen someone swirl their glass of wine and watch it before they taste. Do you know why? This motion is used to observe what is called the wine’s legs, among other things. This is just the streaks left by the droplets on the inside of the glass.
Wine legs aren’t just poetic, they can be a valuable source of information in a tasting because these streaks tell us, for example, about the viscosity or alcohol content of the wine.
If the drops fall slowly, it means the wine is denser and more full-bodied. If it’s slower, though, the wine is lighter and has less alcohol.
But don’t trust this test blindly! There are many factors that can affect wine legs, for example the glass you are using (above all if it has soap residue) or the temperature difference between the wine and the glass. So, don’t forget this is just one small part of the tasting experience.
After some wines have fermented, a natural sediment forms at the bottom of the container. This material is called lees and it is made up of various substances from the grapes, such as yeast, fatty acids and polyphenols.
The lees are an essential component for enriching the wine, as they naturally protect and stabilise the wine, locking in aromas and giving it volume and viscosity.
How? With the French technique known as batonnage. With this technique, winemakers stir the settled lees back into the wine periodically to extract more from them. It can be done in stainless-steel tanks, using a stainless-steel stirring rod, or in the barrel directly.
Our Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco, for example, undergoes this process during its 12 months ageing in new steam-bent French-oak barrels, giving it spectacular complexity and fruitiness. Have you tried it yet?
In previous posts, we’ve talked about terms like winemaking, ageing and fermenting wine, but we still have one very important concept to cover: maceration.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, macerating means “to leave food in a liquid so that it absorbs the liquid and becomes soft, or to become soft in this way.”
In the wine world, the ‘food’ is none other than the grape skins, which are submerged in a liquid, which obviously is the fermented grape must. This process gives the wine colour and extracts different aromas and other substances, like tannins.
And how is wine macerated? That depends on what type it is. For example, our Coto Rosado undergoes a very special maceration (done very quickly at a low temperature for a variable amount of time) plus, we then press it afterwards. All of this results in a delicate, fresh, tantalising wine.
Finally, speaking about maceration, we have to differentiate four different types:
- Carbonic maceration: a specific technique for making red wines. In this process, the whole grape undergoes enzymatic intracellular fermentation. It is mainly used to get light, aromatic young wines.
- Cold maceration: as the name indicates, this process uses lower temperatures to enrich the primary aromas of the wine.
- Warm maceration: also called thermovinification. This technique yields more colour in the wine. Here the crushed grapes are quickly warmed and then cooled before fermentation. Normally, it reaches a maximum temperature of 60 °C to 75 °C.
- Alcohol-enriched maceration: one of the least common methods, only used for certain types of wines.
Although there is a standard size for wine bottles (specifically 75 cl), there are many other formats. One of them is what is known as a Magnum.
These bottles are becoming more common and hold more than the standard bottle. Magnums contain 1.5 l (the third from the left in the picture).
This type of container is perfect for a more balanced wine. This is due to the fact that there is less micro-oxygenation in these bottles and they are less sensitive to temperature change. For example, we use them for our Coto de Imaz Reserva Magnum, a perfect option for a special occasion with friends and family.
Did you know that, after this size, all the bottle names are from the Bible? We tell you all about it in this post.
Clever! What do you think? If you’re left wanting to learn more about winemaking terminology, don’t miss the rest of the posts in the Wine Dictionary on our blog. Check them out!