4 Trending Winemaking Methods
Winemakers are permanently working to improve and to evolve. And so consumers! These are some of the trendy techniques in Argentine wine nowadays.
Argentine wine has evolved a lot and very rapidly during the last decades. So it is a nice exercise to make a stop and analyze that evolution, but, which are the methods of winemaking that were not in vogue in Argentina 10 years ago?
In the same way that it happens in the world of architecture, art, design and many other disciplines, where a trend becomes strong at a certain moment, in our universe, the universe of wine, something similar happens.
Many times an enthusiastic pioneer, a winemaker or a daring oenologist, carries out a particular technique of elaboration, and quickly other colleagues follow it, converting an isolated feat or a discovery into an emerging category. Of course, it is often in combo with consumer’s acceptance.
Now, what becomes interesting is how something we think is a brand new trend is actually based on techniques that have been taken into practice for years in places far away from our lands at the bottom of the globe.
Without further ado, here I go with four of these techniques, at least those which are in my top of mind, and there is a bonus track too.
They have arrived in the market to surprise consumers who are avid of unusual techniques and to awaken the inquisitiveness of the curious ones.
A white wine elaborated as red wine (with skins in maceration) which in the end is not one nor the other. A sort of new category in the menus of the world’s most sophisticated restaurants, even not being an original finding or a modern technique: these wines have their origin in the days of yore. There is those who say that this concept was born in Georgia 6,000 years ago.
In this category, among Argentine wines, we can find references that have prepared the ground with their products. Two notable examples are Alma Negra Orange Wine and Via Revolucionaria, Torrontes Brutal, by Matías Michelini.
Rosé, Provence style
Ten years ago, wine stores and restaurants’ wine lists used to offer quite a different rosé from Argentina from those that are possible to find today.
The difference lies in the intensity, its volume, and color. We used to enjoy wines of relative intensity (for the category), cherry colors, aromas of berries and good volume in the mouth.
Today the category has changed significantly, and almost all the options we see are truly pale and steely, very light, fresh and more acidic, what can place them closer to the white wines than before.
There are numerous examples from different wineries (auteur wines as well as more massive ones) and it is enough to stand in front of a wine store shelf to guess the style based on the visual perception of the color.
In Argentina, we can find clear examples from a luxury option such as the Rosé by Susana Balbo, with complex notes and an exemplary bottle in terms of design, as well as products of wider market positioning as the Rosé by Luigi Bosca. In the middle of them, there are alternatives like Doña Paula, “Vive” by Alta Vista and so many others.
Once again, by the end of the ’90s, a few people used to speak about the elaboration of co-fermented wines: blends that are made since they are born, assembling the different varieties from the fermentation stage which usually implies to get a uniformed wine.
It reminds me to Roberto Cipresso (by then, he was the winemaker of Achaval-Ferrer) narrating the virtues of this technique used in ‘Quimera’ in front of astonished spectators.
Today we can find many products made this way such as Black Bone by Vicentin or Puramun, by Pepe Galante. There are also cases of co-fermentation of white and red grapes together, such as the historical Iscay, made of Syrah and a bit of Viognier.
However, this is not a new trend in the Old Continent. Hundreds of years ago, it was very common to find mixed vineyards where the different varieties grew mixed in the same rows and were harvested together.
Another technique that nowadays captures everyone’s attention all around the world: to use these small egg-shaped containers instead of the usual stainless steel tanks or cement pools. This process avoids practices such as the remounting or the bâtonnage, and it delivers wines of round tannins without the need to be in contact with wood.
In Argentina, Passionate wines in Uco Valley was a pioneer of a technique that apparently also had its origins in Georgia. Another reference at this field is Sebastián Zuccardi, from Zuccardi Wines.
Bonus track: dissociated fermentation.
This technique is not trendy today neither was it a decade ago. Maybe, it will be part of an article to be published in 10 years from now, who knows? What we do know is that this is a modern and bold method with interesting results, specifically applied to red wines.
The dissociation lies in the splitting of the must and the skins into two equal parts. One of the two parts carries on a traditional fermentation at 28 degrees -typical of red wines- considering a maceration of about 25 days. On the other hand, the second part goes with fermentation as if it was a white wine, at a low temperature. When maceration and fermentation processes end in both cases, the two parts are blended together. The result: a very aromatic and expressive wine, with great fluidity.
Success stories? The new vintage, 2016, of Callejon del Crimen Gran Reserva tier. This can be explored with any of the varieties it has.
And this way we conclude this tour of techniques and great wines that, at least to me, leave me the following thought. In a large number of situations, both in wine and in other matters of art and life, we can find the future in the past. Throughout history and what is about to come. Perhaps we can find in our origins the answers to questions that have not yet been formulated.