Bodegas SANTALBA have created a concept and work daily to improve it: WINES WITH HEART. We combine our high quality wines, which provide health with a responsible consumption, sustainability, ecology, natural production practices and our absolute respect for the environment. So, we have created our logo for this concept and we´ll tell you our daily work. We hope you enjoy and support us to achieve it.
Long time ago we wanted to try (or to check), if climate change is a reality in Rioja wines. Last year we were selecting some plots to develop a very interesting test. We wanted to compare the wine made from higher vineyards (always above 750 meters high), with the lower conventional wine (between 350 and 500 meters). To give even more character to this particular wine, we just went ahead only with which the ones that were facing north. We were trying to give to the wine cooler temperatures, less hours of sunshine annually and important thermal gradient between night and day. With these conditions, the plots really were micro -plots, fairly old and with very low production of grapes. So, we created the SANTALBA COTAS ALTAS (or in english, SANTALBA HIGH TOPS).
Wine made from grapes from Tempranillo (60%) and Grenache (40 %), from micro-plots situated on slopes at high altitude and north facing. The slow ripening of the grapes gives this wine fresh and fruity aromas, light body and low alcohol content (more information here) .
After this alcoholic fermentation and as we have been talking about, wine should have another fermentation called Malolactic fermentation. This point of fermentations is really important and a decisive aspect for the final result.
This process is done when the malic acid turn into lactic acid because of the lactic bacteria. During the process there is a very important emission of carbonic gas, and that is why the winery and the elaboration area has a very modern and sophisticated alarm system to detect the carbonic level and, just in case, get it out from the winery.
This fermentation is also called Secundary fermentation.
Temperature control panel
The malolactic fermentation effects are the depletion of the total acidity because part of it turned it into carbonic gas. This gas is lost and detached during the process.
The acid malic fermentation is caused because of the development of the lactic bacteria located in the ripe grape skin.
In Bodegas Santalba, fermentations are controlled and supervised by a very modern and innovative temperature control system where a panel tell us how is working each tank and if necessary send cold or hot in each moment.
When this stage is concluded we have different options to continue the wine process until the wine will be in our cups... keep and eye and we will continue soon
We continue with the wine process and as we told you in our last post, with the FERMENTATION, one of the most important points during the elaboration process. The grape juice needs to overcome two different fermentations, the alcoholic and the malolactic. ALCOHOLIC FERMENTATION The alcoholic fermentation is the process when the sugar turns into alcohol. That is with are needed the yeasts, microorganism that we can find naturally in the grape skin (kind of white dust you can find out side the grape skin). The oxigen is the responsable to start this fermentation, because of the yeasts need it in their growth period. However, at the end of the fermentation the quantity of oxigen must be smaller to keep the ethyl alcohol and get the acetic acid. From the alcoholic fermentation, we obtain heat energy and we have to control the temperature because if it increase too much,(25-30 ºC) the yeasts could die and the fermentation will be stooped. Another product from the alcoholic fermentation is the gas, carbon dioxide and it cause the bubbles and the boiling effect, and of course the characteristic aroma from the fermentation. There is a video from our tanks during this period, it is amazing! More than 30.000 litres...
This boiling effect makes the grape skins go to the top of the tank (solids) and create the "hat". This "hat" protect the grape juice from bacteria and another microorganism from the skin and also is from we get the tanins and the color, aromas and another susbtances like Resveratrol located in the skin.
After to show this grafic on our Social Networks, some friends have been asking about it and that is why we want to explain you our "know how" of Rioja Wine Process. We hope you will enjoy it and please, if you have any question, ask us
As you know, all the process starts in the vineyards, after the hard work done during the year around the 10th of October, the HARVEST starts in Bodegas Santalba. Depends on the year, the climate for example will be an important factor to get different quality. The Consejo Regulador from D.O.Ca. Rioja will calificate the harvest after some tests and facts as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Satisfactory and Average.
All the grapes are not from the same vine and vineyard, so they will have different features. For example, if they come from very old vineyards, like the grapes we use for our Santalba Single Vineyard (http://www.santalba.com/vinos/?acc=vinos&fam=8&idv=17&idc=8 ) they will have "special" characteristis to survive a long ageing process into the barrels and bottles. That is why not every year we have these special wines.
In the picture above the text, you can see the grape process falling down into the machine, where the grapes will be separated the fruit from the "green" part by the destemmer. The green part will be rejected and the grape, quite broken goes to the tanks where the grape juice in touch with the grapes will do the maceration.
After this, we send the grapes to the press. This process now is done by very modern machines but the traditional way to press the grapes were like the picture, done by people in half barrels, just walking above them.
Now starts a very important moment in the wine process the FERMENTATION. We have two different the ALCHOLIC and the MALOLACTIC and we will explain the differences between them soon.
In Bodegas Santalba the pruning and the pre-pruning are done to increase the quality of the grapes and also to make longer the vines life. .It will reduce the veg part of the plant so the growth and yields will be limited to get better results and improve the wine quality.
Pruning at the vineyard
This is a very important point to obtain quality wines, because we can not forget that all the wine process start at the vineyards, so the hard work and care that we have now with the vines will be tralate into wine quality and atributes.
The grape quantity is not related with the green part or vegetable growth of the vines. If the vines have lots of fruits they will have a small size and will be really diffcult their maturation, so again, the quality will be affected.
The prune - In the traditional way with a modern scissor
In general, the vines can grow more than 30 meter high so from the prune we get the "sarmientos" and we will use them for BBQ as wood, they are great to cook Lamb chops (very tipycal from Rioja). Only the buds located at the end of the branches where the sap is, will be the ones that will improve, the others near the trunk will not sprout.
The prune objetive is to reduce the number of branches and the length to make the vine stronger, with a longer life and improving the quality of the fruits.