History of Wine - Young and Aged Wines
In Seville’s Aljarafe, as the harvest takes place in autumn, the first wine (called “broth”) is made by fermenting and incubating the grape must for about forty days and achieving an alcohol content of 12%, which is especially popular.
In Italy, the wine called “Novello” is made as early as November, a month and a half after the harvest. The first wine is produced by fermenting and incubating grape must in a special way. It is very aromatic and fragrant, and does not change over the years. August 31, the date used to calculate the age of the wine, is no longer considered young. After that date, the wine is from last year.
The vintage is an important reference in table wines and is often mentioned on the label. In Spain, since August 1, 1979, at least 85% of the vintage must correspond to the harvest for it to be an important vintage. The rest is made up of wines from other vintages, which are kept as reserves.
Wine blending is a skill in and of itself, and “coupage” is the French expression for it. With “coupage”, their flavors are diversified over time regardless of the different vintages, or very uniform wines are obtained.
Although “coupage” is an attractive art, many connoisseurs prefer unmixed vintages, which gives rise to a big difference between good and bad vintages. However, good vintages, however infrequent they may be, seem to more than compensate for the poor results of other years.
In Jerez, the date of the vintage is not even indicated, due to the artisanal process of aging wine with broth for several years in hatcheries and soleras. Only after understanding that a vintage does not require any correction is it mixed and marked with the vintage. For many years, aged Jerez wines were practically non-existent in the market, although they are currently protected by the Regulatory Council and are beginning to be marketed in the high-end sector.
It was understood that the age of a wine should be calculated by the time it had been stored in wood, rather than in glass. Methyl alcohol is gradually eliminated as the wood ages and tannins are absorbed. In reality, aging is a period of time spent in wood, rather than a period of time spent in storage. In the case of wine, excessive contact with wood is harmful. This was stated by Alexis Lechine about Rioja wines.
Royal Decree 157/88, of February 22 (Spain), guarantees that aging is allowed by the system of vintages in the mixed process of wood and bottle, which includes aging. Starting January 1, “Reserva” will start counting at least in all cases of aging, regardless of the type of wine.
In the case of red wines, “reserve” means a minimum of three years in the bottle and a minimum of twelve months in barrels. Riesling and white wines must be aged for a minimum of two years in barrels and bottles, while rosé wines must have a minimum of six months.
Regulatory councils can raise the bar for barrel aging. This has been decided by the authorities of Rioja, Navarra and Ribera del Duero.78 Specifically, a wine can be granted the category of “aging” after it has completed its aging cycle in vinification, even if what is certified as “aging” is actually “reserve”, as a result of the decision of the regulatory council. Consumers cannot definitively determine how long an aging, Reserva or Gran Reserva was in barrels and when it ended its aging after purchasing it.
Consumers do not have at their disposal a terminal that provides answers to the questions of aging, reservation and Gran Reserva in the different periods of Spanish legislative history, as well as the decisions of the regulatory councils, in relation to white, rosé and red wines. Even with the information provided, it is not possible to determine exactly how long the wine spent on wood.
In 2003, new names were created to indicate age: oak, aged, old, crianza, reserve and Gran Reserva (law 24/2003). If the label clearly communicates this information, it is certainly welcome. Harvest: September-October. Barrel: 12 months. Bottled in December 2005. Tempranillo variety, etc.