In organic agriculture and its non-soluble fertilization, it ensures that the vine fixes the varietal, soil and environmental qualities in its fruits.
These aromas, flavours, colours and natural textures are what, through fermentation, will allow the wine's own natural aromas to be transformed and developed.
Fermentation acts as the cooking in the food that forms the aromas and flavors of the dish. Well, depending on the container in which we cook the same ingredients, the food has different aromas and flavors depending on the material: stainless steel, cast iron, clay ...
In our case, we are proud of fermenting in amphorae, whether they are the oldest made of clay, which in their effect resemble the "grandmother's stew" or of concrete, which constitute a container with properties similar to the thick cast iron of. In La Bodega de las Estrellas, we ferment in two rooms of 19 amphorae each. One from the 19th century with amphorae from Villarobledo (Albacete) made by the artisan family of Juan de la Guía, 320@ each (around 5,000 litres). And another of concrete jars with interior vitrified, from the mid-twentieth century around 11,000 liters each one.
Clay’s characteristics which more relevant effects we have detected in wine can be associated with:
-High thermostable capacity material which facilitates a slow fermentation process while the ovoidal shape of the amphora favours exchange and homogenisation processes by the fluids dynamic.
-Electrostatically inert material able to conduct a respectful fermentation respectful towards regarding the varietal conditions, adding an air of distinction to the result with an outstanding complexity.
- Constant capillarity and microoxigenation which allow the red wines to erase herbaceous and astringent notes, leading to a the result more oriented towardsripe fruit flavours, without reducing effects.
These same qualities of microoxigenation, inertia and thermostability take place in the following processes following the fermentation, such as the decantation and maturation of the wines. Clay amphorae make easier the decantation of particles in suspension by their electrostatic inertia.
Both the shape and material allows a “lateral adhesion” which improves the decantation; and at reverse, favours the moving process of the fine lees, with the added advantage brought by microoxigenation: their reducing character is neutralised.
Finally, mannoproteins get powerful, reaching a better tartaric stability and colouring material.
The maturation in amphorae reduces the astringent and bittering part of the tannins. It stabilises the aromatic fraction and improves significantly the after-taste perception.
The effect of “ageing” in amphora, we realise it in La Bodega de las Estrellas, in the amphorae of the cellar. Seven smaller amphorae of 3 000 litres capacity are stored nine meters deep with a temperature of 10 to 15ªC all the year.
The amphorae “ageing” possesses’ qualities are differential from the ageing in oak barrels, the most important one is the maintaining and respect of the varietal qualities that are not modified by the “invasion” of foreign aromas and flavours since the material doesn’t transfer any component, unlike wood.
The anthocyanins oxidation and destruction phase is clearly slower and reduced; the development of flavonoids is very complicated. Consequently, the wine doesn’t lose its primary aromas but deepens its maturity qualities. Its fruity character becomes compote fruit quality. From its precursors, it has formed other own and specific components.
If the growing in amphora open a splendid debate and provide magnificent results for the red wines, in the case of white wines the result is much more spectacular, it brings new typologies and surely an innovative vision of the traditional varieties.
To conclude, a reflexion from an independent vintner:
We should never let the time be the master which typifies the wines, as it is the case with barrel ageing. Instead, we should let the wine itself, the cuvee and vintage’s characteristics, including the artisan winemaker’s objectives: all things that bring diversity.