Wine dictionary: What is the bouquet? A balsamic wine? (B-C)
We have the second instalment of our wine dictionary! We’re going to continue with the letter B and start on the C: balsamic, bouquet, carbonic, grape vine and ageing are our words for this second instalment.
We’re sure you’ll learn something new, something interesting, and that, by the end of this post, you’ll be a bit more of a wine expert. You’re going to love it!
Let’s start off our round of definitions with balsamic. When we talk about a balsamic wine, we mean the penetrating aroma and sense of freshness found in some wines. In fact, balsamic notes tend to be found in the tertiary aromas or bouquet, which we’ll look at in more detail below.
These are some of the main balsamic notes you can find in a wine:
A good example of this is our 875m tinto, a fresh and intense wine, with good acidity and delicate aromas of cherries and red fruit, combined with mocha and cacao and a long balsamic finish.
This French word is used more or less synonymously with nose in English. In the Cambridge English Dictionary it is defined as: “the characteristic smell of a wine or liqueur.” But let’s look a bit further!
What exactly is the bouquet or nose? It is the combination of smells and fragrances resulting from the different stages of the winemaking process: fermentation, vinification and ageing, as well as its time in the bottle. It is the final aroma, the tertiary notes of the wine.
Plus, there are two different types of bouquets:
1.Oxidation bouquet: from the ageing process, which happens in the barrel.
2.Reduction bouquet: from the bottle-ageing process, without oxygen.
If you want to learn more about wine aromas, don’t miss our first dictionary post that explains all about them.
We often use the term “carbonic wines” to refer to those made with carbonic maceration, a system typical above all in Rioja Alavesa in which the grapes are fermented whole, with the stems.
Not all carbonic wines or wines with carbon dioxide have been made with this technique. For example, sparking and semi-sparkling wines also have carbonation without using this technique. Plus, newly fermented wines can also have bubbles of carbonation, from the fermentation.
What does carbonation in a wine mean? It helps keep it fresh, boosts primary aromas and makes the sugars seem less sweet.
Grapevines are defined as “a type of climbing plant on which grapes grow”. Vines must be cared for to make sure they have a long, full life, which can be divided into the following periods:
- Growth.The first three years of the vine’s life, when winegrowers start caring for it and shaping it. The grapes from the first years aren’t normally used to produce wine.
- Development.Over the following years, up to 10 more or less, the grapes improve and become higher quality.
- Peak.Grapevines are at their best from 10 to 30 years after they were planted. Over this time, the vine is at its peak and the quality of the grapes only improves as it continues to be cared for and shaped.
- Old age.Did you know there are some grapevines that have been around for over 100 years? In this stage, the vines need a lot of care because they can yield exquisite grapes but fewer of them. Caring for old vines is an art form.
The ageing of wines is the time they are stored in barrels, tanks or bottles to continue developing. Wine evolves over time, changing throughout its lifespan.
There are different types of ageing processes:
- Ageing in oak barrels: Rioja wines are aged in 225-litre barrels, racked periodically, and then finished in the bottle. Rioja has the largest inventory of barrels in the world: over 1,300,000.
- Bottle ageing: the time the wine spends ageing in the bottle.
And if we’re talking about the definition of a Crianza or aged wine, it is important to remember that each Regulating Council in our country sets its own parameters. For the Rioja Regulating Council, a Crianza wine is one “in at least its third year that has spent at least one year in oak barrels. For white wines, the minimum barrel-ageing time is 6 months.”
If you’ve already read the first two parts of the wine dictionary and want some more interesting facts, don’t miss this post!