Monthly Archives: May 2017

The true ‘terroir’ of Bodega Cuatro Rayas

The social structure of Bodega Cuatro Rayas allows us to make oenological decisions, which in other wineries of the Rueda Designation of Origin would be difficult to make. The mosaic of vineyards terrains, municipalities and vineyard areas owned by our members permits a very thorough tour of the wealth of soils and hillsides spread throughout our closest lands.

It is clear that, from La Seca, Pozaldez and Serrada to the municipality of Medina del Campo or Pozal de Gallinas there are distinguishing nuances that, nonetheless, enrich and complement the vines and soils of such diverse areas as Santiuste de San Juan Bautista and Aldeanueva del Codonal in the province of Segovia. If we add to this vineyard map areas of pre-phylloxera vines areas, eighty-year-old vines, 25 and 30-year-old vineyards and recently joined younger vineyards; the Cuatro Rayas wines can be proud to represent a winemaking region from every angle without a doubt.

The mere fact of having owner-members, whose vineyards are spread throughout the Designation of Origin, is good for everyone because of many reasons. Firstly, because of the enriching diversity, the quality and characteristics of the grapes, and because, in the case of climatology changes or any related disease appearance, some areas may be damaged while other may render free of it compensating the winemaking process.

If the membership base of our cooperative is the engine of our winery, the soils where the vines grow are the foundation of every work we do. In Bodega Cuatro Rayas winery, the vineyards of almost 300 wine grower members are spread across the provinces of Valladolid (97%) and Segovia (3%). In Valladolid, they are located in the municipalities of Almenara de Adaja, El Campillo, Hornillos de Eresma, La Seca, Matapozuelos, Medina del Campo, Nava del Rey, Pozal de Gallinas, Pozaldez, Rodilana, Rueda, Serrada, Valdestillas, Ventosa de la Cuesta, Villanueva de Duero and Villaverde de Medina. In Segovia, the vineyards of the winery are in the municipalities of Aldeanueva del Codonal, Aldehuela del Codonal, Codorniz and Santiuste de San Juan Bautista.

Ageing on lees, better smoothness and long-lasting aromas

Nobody can question that ageing on lees is already a part of the winemaking process. In this post, we are going to explain not only the meaning but how the process works and what it provides to the wine, thanks to the information provided by the technical team of the winery. Like any other process –this is not different– everything begins with the newly harvested grapes. Here, we take the first step, turning the fruit into must, and then, into wine. But let’s go one step at a time. When the grapes are fermenting, to be exact, after the alcoholic fermentation has taken place, the wine begins to release lees into the bottom of the fermenting container, either vats or barrels. These lees are composed, mainly, by dead yeast that appears after the transformation of the must sugar into alcohol; when decomposing, the yeasts release into the wine some substances that provide some attributes, such as shaping the mouthfeel of the wine, making it smoother and with long-lasting aromas.

Ribera-Rueda USA 5-10 Septiembre 2016

Wine must regularly be stirred, so that all the surface of the wine contained in the vat or barrel is in contact with the lees. Depending on the desired wine and the container (vat or barrel), the frequency of the resuspension of the lees during the ageing process will vary. Typically, stirring will be performed once a day at the beginning, and subsequently, it will continue to be done once a week.

Ribera-Rueda USA 5-10 Septiembre 2016

Bodega Cuatro Rayas produce several types of wines aged on lees: Cuatro Rayas Viñedos Centenarios wine is aged on lees in a stainless steel vat for five months. Grapes come, in this case, from and an old vineyard planted on a sandy soil. Cuatro Rayas Cuarenta Vendimas wine is also defined by ageing on lees in a stainless steel vat for five months, although grapes come from an old vintage planted on a gravelly soil. Amador Díez wine is aged on lees in French and American oak barrels for eight months, and the grapes come from the oldest vineyards of the winery, in this case, pre-phylloxera vines. Lastly, Cuatro Rayas white wine, barrel fermented is aged on lees in French and American oak for eight months.

Bodega Cuatro Rayas indigenous yeasts

It is not always easy to understand some terms related to the winemaking process. We often hear about yeasts, which are nothing but a microscopic fungus, and are in charge of the alcoholic fermentation when they enter in contact with the must. This is a key process in winemaking. However, not all the yeasts are the same: there are many kinds and species. This time, we will focus on the indigenous yeasts, namely, those that can be found naturally in the grape, without human intervention.

But let’s go one step at a time. Laboratories select commercial yeasts that come from different parts of the world; they are dehydrated products that we add to the must. But indigenous yeasts are a completely different thing; you can imagine how we obtain them with this example: if we go to the vineyard, and we crush a bunch of grapes to obtain the must –and we leave it in a container– after a few days, must fermentation will take place spontaneously through the action of lots of yeasts attached to the skin of the grape. Those are the indigenous yeasts.

Each region, even each vineyard, has its own indigenous yeasts. They are essential because, when performing the alcoholic fermentation, they pass on their distinct character to the wine. This is a part of what we call ‘terroir’, making that wine different to other produced wines, even with the same variety. However, a wine produced like this doesn’t behave in the same way every year, since it won’t develop the same yeasts because the development of the so-called ‘microbial flora’ depends on the weather and environmental conditions and the usage of phytosanitary products. Furthermore, some of these yeasts won’t be able to carry out the alcoholic fermentation completely, or even they could transmit bad aromas and undesired flavours to the wine. For this reason, the vast majority of the wineries use commercial yeasts to carry out a controlled alcoholic fermentation.

In Bodega Cuatro Rayas, we have been performing a selection process of our indigenous yeasts since 2012 vintage, in a project developed with the support of LEW 2050, a company related to the Universidad of Navarra. The Department of Oenology at Bodega Cuatro Rayas is the responsible for this, selecting the most suitable yeasts, among all spontaneous fermentation yeasts, to transmit our wines the character of the vineyards of our region. In this way, using our yeasts, we make wines with character and a particular authenticity.