Marsala Wine Production

There isn’t really much to be said for the production of Marsala wines so this will be a short discussion on the subject. Alternatively, you can learn about wine made in Marsala, Sicily in my post Marsala Wine: Captialism’s Bastard Child. One reason there’s not a big hoopla about it is because it was a late comer to the fortified wine trend in the. 18th century. By the time the wine became trendy, Port, Sherry and Madeira already had a strong foothold in the fortified wine market. But you can think the late comer John Woodhouse for exposing Marsala wines to the world.

Madeira Wine Production

Continuing down the road of fortified wine production I wanted to go over Madeira wine production in this post. You don’t really see much info on Madeira but it is a fine fortified wine when you’re not staring any of the various bottles of cheap cooking wine. If you’d like to read about the various styles of Madeira, read my post, Madeira Wine: A Drink To Independence. You will also find characteristics and classification levels. Traditionally made from one of four of the Noble wine grapes of the region, Malvasia, Baul, Sercial, or Verdelho, Madeira is labeled varietally. For a while, after Phylloxera destroyed a majority of vineyards in Madeira during the 1800′s, wine makers substituted Tinta Negra Mole for each varietal. Entire vineyards were planted and used for all styles until the Noble grapes were reintroduced. Today at least 85% of the juice in a bottle of Madeira must be of the varietal on the label to be classified as such varietal.

Port Wine Production Part 2

Cont’d from Port Wine Production Part 1 Port wine traditionally matures in casks called pipes between one and two winter seasons in the wineries of the Douro. It then goes to the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, whose humid air is perfect for aging and maturing wines and causes very little to evaporate. While Port wine can be shipped from anywhere in the Douro region with the recent change in legislation, Vila Nova de Gaia is still the preferred port being the most humid area in all of Europe.

Port Wine Production Part 1

Now that the production of Sherry has had time to sink in I want to go into Port wine production. But, in case you missed it, you can click the link for Sherry Production Part 1, which discusses the types of grapes used to make Sherry, how the grapes are crushed and what goes into the fermentation process, Or you can go here for Sherry Production Part 2 and learn how Sherry is classified, how the Solera system works and what the process is for fortification.

Sherry Production Part 2

cont’d from Sherry Production Part 1. Let’s move right in to the classification of Sherry and fortification. Once the juice has fermented, tasters come in to classify the Sherry as either Fino or Oloroso. If one or two lots cannot be determined they are marked mosto sobretablas which means undecided. These wines are left to age more until they reach their potential and then they are reevaluated. Evaluation includes: color of the juice, clarity (being free of sediment), aroma and flavor with the palest, clearest, most aromatic and least bitter valued the highest. These wines go into the Fino Sherry category and consist of Manzanillas, Finos and Amontillados. They are fortified to somewhere between 15-15.5% alcohol in a half and half mix of grape spirits and Sherry juice. Everything else goes into the Oloroso Sherry category. These are fortified to 18% by way of adding pure grape spirit. This will effectively kill off any spoilage bacteria. Oloroso Sherry includes Olorosos and Rayas. If you would like more information about the Fino and Oloroso styles and what each are like read the post, Jerez My Sherry Wine. Once the Sherry is classified it is barrel-aged in one of two forms depending [...]

Sherry Production Part 1

Sherry Production will be our first discussion in our series learn about fortified wines. I’ve already covered the different styles of Sherry, so if you would like more information on that you can read my post entitled Jerez My Sherry Wine. Sherry wine is a fortified wine that was brought to the port of Cádiz in the southwestern corner of Andalusia, Spain by the Phoenicians. The date is said to have been around 1100 BC, or there about. Because of its popularity vineyards were soon planted in a nearby triangle parcel of land called the Jerez region. It’s a dry chalky area whose albariza soil is reminiscent of the moon’s terrain. Sherry was the first European wine drunk in America and is produced with either a dry or sweet finish. The triangular region is rather large touching the points of three major cities: Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa María. To refresh you, the grapes used in Sherry production are: Palomino: provides the base of the grape juice to be converted Pedro Ximénez: or PX, is used as the sweetening agent Moscatel: or Muscat d’Alexandria provides the sherries color Moving right into the production process [...]

Learn About Fortified Wines

How the heck are fortified wines made? If you’ve been following this wine blog and have wondered why I haven’t posted anything in a while or have wondered if that’s all there is to learn about wine, first off, no; no it’s not. I apologize for the long period between this and my last post; personal business has kept me away. Second, though I have time now to tell you all the great things you’ve ever wanted to learn about wine, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the short post I’m going to make today. Don’t fret, however; the posts following this one will renew your faith in this wine dork’s attempts at wine education. Consider this tidbit of wine knowledge a prelude of sorts. As I’ve been discussing the different types of wine production over the past several posts, I thought I should include fortified wines and how they are made. I covered them once before in my post, Fortified Wines, Pickled Homosapiens, but only to the degree of explaining what types of fortified wine are available. This time we will be looking at the production side. It’s going to be a long read, one spread out over [...]

Learn About Sparkling Wine Production Part II

Learn About Sparkling Wine Production If you missed the first part of this post, you can Learn About Sparkling Wine Production from the beginning by clicking the link. The last thing we talked about was the Champagne press and the different stages of pressing. Now let’s get into primary fermentation. Primary Fermentation and Assemblage Once pressed any matter that is left in the juice is allowed to settle and is chaptalized if needed. For the most part the juice for sparkling wine production is fermented in stainless steel tanks. However, some Champagne houses along with some New World producers of sparkling wine use oak. Fermentation takes about ten days to reach its end. After that time the sparkling wine may see secondary fermentation, or malo-lactic fermentation. Once the fermentation process is complete the wine is racked (removal of the lees or dead yeasts cells). As most sparkling wines are blends the finished product can come from several, even hundreds of different lots of sparkling wine just to create the cuvée. Remember cuvée is both free run juice and the term for blend. This is especially applicable to non vintage sparkling wines where the juice can come from several different harvests [...]

Learn About Sparkling Wine Production

Learn About Sparkling Wine Production It still makes me chuckle when I overhear certain types of people talk about wine. People who obviously know nothing about it, but who have read an article in Wine Spectator and have suddenly become experts on a subject. Let me explain. As a wine expert myself, (stop laughing) I hold a lot of wine tastings for different venues in my area and it always happens that there are a few beginner wine drinkers who show up, led by their new-to-wine friends who are always eager to share some new-found wine knowledge. Why they wait to share it at a public wine tasting I don’t know, but I suppose it’s to make themselves look good in front of their even greener wine-newb friends. As I said, for me, it just makes me laugh. No offense to the newb reading this if you saw me last weekend. So at this particular event I overhear a guy talking about wine production. He’s telling his lady friend all about the clarification process of winemaking, malo-lactic treatment, and it’s impressing me because for the most part he’s got it right. I was almost starting to think he’d been reading [...]

Learn About Red Wine Production: Part II

Learn About Wine Production Continuing with step three of red wine making, let’s learn about Pressing, Secondary Fermentation and Clarification in red wine production. Largely today, red wines are pressed either slightly before fermentation finishes or when the wine reaches its intended dryness level. Pressing enables all the juice to be extracted while allowing solids to be easily removed. Typically part of the production of white wines, especially with Chardonnay, some red wines do undergo malo-lactic fermentation after primary fermentation has completed. Malo-lactic fermentation is responsible for giving white wines that buttery flavor; in red wines it imparts toffee flavors which go unnoticed until the red wine has matured and thrown off its fruit-forward flavors and aggressive tannins. Clarification in red wines consists of a series of rackings, finings or filtrations. It can happen at any time before, during or after the aging process. It’s the same process as clarification in white wine production. Racking is simply the act of gravity pulling remaining sediment (lees) to the bottom of the juice as it sits idle. Fining utilizes binding agents that marry to small particles too to settle during racking. The weight of the newly bound sediment is heavy enough to [...]