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Aging is a long and delicate process aimed at conferring a different character to a wine that is already developed. The starting point is a perfect wine for consumption act, but with the possibility of seeing their qualities improved by aging.
The aging process takes place in two stages: oxidative yreductora. The first takes place in the wooden cask, where small amounts of oxygen penetrating the container naturally by modifying the chemical structure of many of the components of the wine. The second is performed inside the bottle. It does not penetrate virtually oxygen, except small amounts of gases that are filtered through the cork cells, so wine elements react with each other in their absence.
First stage of aging: the importance of wood
During the first phase of aging, wood and wine form a stable and practically indivisible society. The wood gives the wine its tannins and aromatic own values, which are slowly merging with the tannins of the wine. However, it is necessary to find a balance between both partners: if the wine remained long in the barrel, the harsh tannins of the wood would eventually defeat the original aromas of the wine.
According to experts, the most suitable wood is American or French oak, although other woods like chestnut, rauli or pitch pine are also used. The most widely used is the bordalesa barrel with a capacity of 225 liters.
All barrels filled and closed are placed in a row over others in a space excavated or semiexcavado preferably on the ground and remain there for about six months. The temperature of this place should be low and range about 5 ° between summer and winter. The relative humidity should be around 75%. These weather conditions favor a process of slow and homogeneous microoxidación, while reducing shrinkage, ie, loss of liquid by evaporation.
After the first six months, the wine is decanted into another barrel in order to separate the clean wine residues located at the bottom, and seek a degree of aeration and respite for wine.
This phase lasts for several months, until the wine acquires the desired point. At the end of this stage, both the aromas and flavors of wine are mixed. To achieve a unification of qualities, the wine cask is blended with other wines of the same vintage. Then it proceeds to a gentle clarification of wine, filter and bottled.
Second stage of aging: aging in bottle
With the transfer of wine bottles begins the second phase of the aging process: the reducing (oxygen).
A full and well covered time, the bottles are placed in racks located in caves or drafts. It is perfectly insulated underground or ships which are characterized by the absence of air and sudden temperature changes and by a relative humidity above 70%. There they will remain flat forming rhymes so that the wine is in permanent contact with the cork, moistening and producing a seal.
The wine that has evolved successfully during oxidative phase, the bottle is refined and rounded, enriching their scent hand of existing substances in the reducing atmosphere (without oxygen) of the bottle. Thus acquires a greater complexity and elegance and the proof is that the aging in bottle of great wine can last for many years.
When deciding who finished the bottle stage, it is considered the finished wine. Then it is removed from the drafts, cleaned of accumulated dust bottle, is placed the corresponding labels and the capsule and is ready for market.
Classification of wines
Specifically, the tranquil VCPRD receive descriptive names depending on the duration of aging that have undergone wood or bottle, as set by each appellation of origin, and taking into account that Spanish law has harmonized these to ensure a same minimum standards in any appellation.
So the following descriptive names are defined:
Young Wine: Also known as Wine of the Year, is one that is prepared for immediate sale on the market. It has not happened so at any time by the aging process in barrels or, at most, less than the legally established time for Crianza wines.
Crianza: Red wine must have passed an aging process of two years, with a minimum of six months in wood (some regions like Rioja insist twelve best six) and should be put on sale in its third year. As the pink and white wines must remain a year in the cellar, of which six months must be at least in wooden barrels. Its marketing is done in its second year.
Reserva: The Red duty three years in the cellar, of which at least one must do it in barrels. It is marketed in its fourth year. The white and rose wines should be two years in the cellar, six months in wood, and offered for sale in its third year.
Gran Reserva: Only reach this stage of aging which are considered the best vintages. The red must have spent at least five years in the cellar of the year and a half which is in wooden barrels and the rest in bottle. They must be traded in its sixth year. Pink and white wines remain in the cellar for four years and at least six months in barrels. Also they sold in its sixth year.