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Barrel ageing

Once wines have been through both fermentation processes, and the sediment or lees have been removed, the wine is then ready to be aged in 225 litre Bordeaux size barrels in our underground cellars, in conditions of perfect temperature and absolute tranquillity.  All in all some 14.000 American oak barrels are perfectly ordered in the 6.000 square metres of cellar space.

crianza Wine ageing in 225 litre American oak barrels

During this period, a very slow process of oxidation (esterification) takes place through the pores of the wood, which play an important part in the development of the wine’s bouquet. This biological process is complemented by periodic rackings (once or twice a year), to remove the sediment that settles in the bottom of the barrels. Our rackings are carried out with rigorous precision, so that the impurities are in contact with clean wine the shortest time possible.  It goes without saying that the barrel is never turned up to stand vertically throughout the racking process.

In other words, anything that might prejudice the good evolution of the wine in question is painstakingly removed, while the elements that contribute to flavour are kept.

Ageing wines should be seen as a pedagogic act; the wine is “educated", and hence should never be rushed through speeded-up improvisations which would destroy the biological process which give it its character.  Wines need to spend a minimum of three years in barrels to begin to manifest their “education”.  Ten years is the maximum barrel ageing permitted in the Rioja Alta region, and anything more than six years is unusual unless the wines are destined to become Gran Reservas.

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