We live in the age of immediacy. An era marked by the vertiginous pace at which things move and the imperious need to have what we want when we want it.
Patience is, in many cases, the best (and only) virtue to achieve excellence in certain processes. Sometimes, being able to do something without rush and with the greatest care guarantees quality.
The ageing period in the winery is one of those things in which patience is a determining variable. After the harvest, the grapes enter the winery and once the fermentations are finished, the barrels are filled. The resulting wine is carefully secured until the desired aromas and nuances are achieved. During this stage, there is no rush.
Who makes up the winery team, and how are they organised?
The atmosphere of collaboration between Jean Leon’s teams is evident in the winery because communication between the winery and viticulture areas is fundamental.
In the cellar, Oliver and Sergi are in charge of pampering the wine. “Each season has its own specifications. Depending on how the grapes ripen, certain decisions are made throughout the winemaking process,” Oliver points out. Together with Montse, the winemaker, they plan the ageing times and the blends. She is the orchestra director, as she coordinates the tasks between the winery and the vineyard, making decisions throughout the winemaking process.
How long are the wines in the cellar?
How long must the wines spend in the cellar? It depends. Each wine has its own timing. In this process, the material of the barrels, the ageing time and the level of toasting are determining factors. All these factors end up enhancing the wine. “For Vinya La Scala, for example, the matter is to keep this liquid for the right amount of years so that it gains in complexity and is a wine that is already designed to be well preserved over time,” Oliver points out.
Wine that is treated in oak barrels will be more complex on the nose and will become more sophisticated on the palate over time. In stainless steel tanks, on the other hand, the fruit is more prominent, as well as the floral part of the wine. Finally, there is also the possibility of making wine in cement vats, which provides roundness on the palate, as there is a small amount of micro-oxygenation, as happens with barrels.
At Jean Leon, we use different containers and times depending on the desired results. In the case of Vinya Gigi, for example, the wine is aged for six months and, in this process, a part in barrels and another part in stainless steel tanks are combined.
In the case of the single vineyard red wines, such as Vinya Palau, a 12-month ageing process in barrels is necessary, just like Vinya le Havre. Our Gran Reserva, Vinya la Scala, is aged for at least two years in barrels.
How important is wood in the production of wine?
The contact between wood and wine brings a great variety of nuances and aromas. At Jean Leon we only use fine grain oak barrels. This type of wood has smaller pores, which slows down the rate at which oxygen enters the barrel and allows for a gentler ageing.
French oak is softer, with a finer grain and less tannins. Thanks to these characteristics, wines with long, elegant and balanced ageing are achieved, where notes of vanilla, nuts and honey dominate.
On the other hand, thanks to the American oak, the barrels are more resistant and impermeable. The American oak notes, on the other hand, bring a greater variety of exotic aromas such as coconut, cocoa or smoky and roasted notes of coffee and tobacco.
The notes coming from the barrel are not only influenced by the type of wood, but also by the degree of toasting. In other words, during the barrel-making process, the barrels are toasted on the inside, with the aim of curving the material, but also to provide aromatic notes, which can vary depending on the intensity and the time in the fire. A light toast will provide vanilla and coconut notes, while a medium toast will have coffee, cocoa or smoky notes, and a strong toast will provide tobacco, caramel and roasted notes.
How do you know if the wine is ready?
In order to know if a wine is ready to move on to the next stage, there are several factors to consider: the minimum ageing time and the winemaker’s tastings.
The first criterion is to make sure that the wine has passed the established minimum ageing time. Once this interval has passed, the different wines are tasted in the winery and a decision is made as to which ones will be part of the blending and in what proportion. Once finished, protein and tartaric stabilisation is carried out, with a final filtration of the wine before bottling. And from here, the single vineyard wines will rest in the bottle until they are ready, while our young wines are labelled and boxed.
It seems an easy and quick task, but once the barrels are filled, we enter another era, freeing us from the rest of the world. And throughout this process in the winery, our team works with the utmost care and patience, striving for excellence.