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Wine made using controlled oxidation

The idea for today’s article ‘ Wine made using Controlled Oxidation ‘ came from tasting wines from the ‘private cellar‘ of Nacho Romero, Kaymus Restaurant, Valencia. Nacho not only is a top class chef but also very knowledgable about wine.  Each wine in the tasting had been made using oxidative winemaking techniques.  Let me apologise for being a bit more technical than usual but bear with me because wines made in this way can be wonderful.

A wine made using controlled oxidation means that it has been exposed to oxygen in a controlled manner over a period of time during vinification and ageing. Think of Sherry, a wine made in an oxidative way through the solera ageing system or traditional Riojas, both reds and whites, where the wines are regularly transferred from one barrel to another exposing them to oxygen, or vintage Champagne, where over time small amounts of oxygen have entered the wine through the cork and the result a more complex, richer style of wine.

Normally the term oxidised is used when describing a fault in a wine. For example a bottle of wine left open for several days in your kitchen will have turned slightly flat and taste bitter and vinegary due to its exposure to air.

However, controlled or deliberate oxidation is different resulting in a wine with distinctive characters; more of an earthy, nutty, spicy and smooth flavours.  This is achieved by over time, slowly letting oxygen seep through the tiny pours of the oak barrels into the wine.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about Wine and Umami. If you like foods that are high in Umami, the savoury taste you get from some foods like hard cheeses, cured meats, rich sauces and olives, you may well also like oxidative wines styles.  Sometimes it is difficult to describe the flavours, it is more of pleasant sensation.

Back to the tasting. I love to be surprised when tasting wines and this was certainly the case with these wines. The first wines was Encrucijado 2014 from Bodegas Cota 45 in Cadiz. When tasted blind is similar in many ways to a Palo Cortado sherry. However this is a single vintage wine made predominately from the sherry grape Palomino. It has a light caramel colour, smooth with a nutty, yeasty flavours.

Vidonia Suertes del Marques 2014, from Tenerife, made from the indigenous white grape variety Listan Blanco, which is another name for Palomino the grape used to make Sherry.  This wine also had spent time in old oak barrels, this results in a controlled oxidation but without imparting the flavours that you would get from newer oak barrels.

Domain de la Borde Arbois Blanc from Jura, a small region in north east France famous for its very oxidised ‘Vin Jaunes’ made in a similar way to sherry with the formation of a layer of flor on top of the wine in barrels.  Savoury flavours, nuttiness and baked citrus.  Simply delicious.

This style of wine is not for everyone but if you are a curious wine lover you will be very pleasantly surprised.

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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