Tag Archives: verdejo

From the bunch to the stem

We have already spoken about the advantages of the mechanical harvest. Its benefits are related to time-saving, harvesting costs, better precision, and the improvement of the quality of the grape. As you can imagine, turning the bunch into a stem in record time and with all the guarantees is another of the great advantages of the mechanical process. Have you ever asked how destemming of the berry from its “skeleton’” is done? Well, let me enlighten you right away. As you already know, the harvesting machine works as it straddles on every row of the vines. It shakes the bunch of grapes vigorously with a kind of “beater bars”. Thanks to the vibratory movements, berries come out of the bunch easily and fall into a conveyor belt housed inside the machine. This method is so effective, that 80% of the bunch – of course, empty – remains on the vine.

But, what happens with the stems that, inevitably, come into the machine? A built-in stalk remover, inside the machine, takes care of it. It is so efficient, that it manages to remove them immediately before the berries enter the hopper. In so doing, the berries are completely free from stems avoiding any foreign object, which could infuse the must with undesired bitter flavours, to come into the press. As you can imagine, destemming is an essential process. Not only removes the berry from the stem, but also many other plant residues, such as leaves and small vine shoots.

In the case of Cuatro Rayas Winery, another advantage of the mechanical destemming is that we do it in the field, making sure that the grapes that go into the winery are completely free of those residues. However, the whole process, which we have just explained finishes with a final check in the cellar, once the trailer comes with the grape load.

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.

Century Old Vines, historical and human heritage of the winery

Beyond sentimental value, an old photograph provides extremely valuable information. Even though the passage of time has slightly faded it or despite the poor quality of the image, the fact is that to behold such a flash of the past is like holding a small treasure. The picture we want to show you today was taken almost 80 years ago in the same place where the participants in the next video are having a chat: José Martín del Campo, vineyard technical director at Cuatro Rayas, and two of the members of the winery, Carlos Gómez Sanz and Alfredo Barreras Agüero. These latter two have a lot to do with the picture since some of their close family members appear in the black and white photograph. In this historical harvest-season setting, children, parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents pose next to pack animals, baskets, carts and large grape bunchs. Although 80 years have passed, the vines were there long before that.

 

 

Now, this group picture comes out from this family photo album becoming a documentary source, as the vines behind the image are the same that nowadays remain in the vineyard –where our three guests are sitting– in the municipal district of Aldeanueva del Codonal, Segovia. In fact, this area preserves the largest amount of century-old vines, since they were uprooted in many neighbouring villages. Locals have always referred to this area as Las Viñas Viejas (“The Old Vines”); even though only this small parcel of land remains, the entire vineyard used to stretch back to the pine forests that stand today at the far edge of the landscape. Bodega Cuatro Rayas owns a century-old vineyard in this area, including 10 hectares of pre-phylloxera vines without rootstock. Likewise, some members of the winery own a large area of vineyards, which apparently were planted 80 years ago. In other words, a great richness that some of the Bodega Cuatro Rayas members treasure since they decided to keep these small vineyards in the plots that some of their ancestors planted. They are true hidden treasures and their grapes, the most coveted fruit. Nowadays, they cherish these vine plants as their elder ones, because they bear little fruit, but what they do produce is of outstanding quality.

We also brought to the estate two of the wines made with these century-old grapes from this type of plots. Our guests hold in their hands two of Bodega Cuatro Rayas’ gems: Amador Díez (Verdejo Cuvée) of the 2015 vintage and Cuatro Rayas Viñedos Centenarios, a white Verdejo of the 2016 vintage. From this old picture to the modern wines, only 80 vegetative cycles have passed, and many more still to be harvested, bunch by bunch.

The Lab team: The sentinels of Cuatro Rayas

The Lab team at Bodega Cuatro Rayas moves with ease among hydrometers, beakers, flasks, test tubes, pipettes and distillation equipment. Equipment set up every day to ensure the wine quality and all the parameters related to it. The team works closely with the other departments, but especially with winemaking, as the winemaker will depend on their analysis to take the right decisions.

In charge of the Lab at Cuatro Rayas is Juncal Gonzalez, who is supported by the assistant Rubén Navarro, two professionals who know not only the ins and outs of their department, but also the wine process in its broadest sense, from the vine to the bottle. Their tasks focus on the analysis of numerous parameters, long before the cork finally closes the bottle. Their work starts at harvest, collecting grape samples, analyzing ripeness indices to determine when harvest can be started. All the grapes from each plot literally pass through their hands, so they can usually be seen alongside the scales when the grapes enter the cellar, testing the sanitary condition of the grapes thanks to their Lab being equipped with infrared technology.

The Lab is the team of sentinels at Cuatro Rayas. All musts coming out of the press are monitored in detail, as are fermentations, measuring the densities and temperatures daily. They also control the condition of the wines from the moment they enter the vats unfiltered, until they end up going through the process of stabilization, before bottling. Precisely this latter process of bottling is where they dedicate a large part of their efforts, since in the final section important parameters such as the fill level volumes of the bottles and the acidity are controlled.

Undoubtedly the work of the quality control Lab is as important as bottling control, the final part of a long process that seeks wine excellence, with rigor, detail and professionalism.

A ‘wine 10’ for an exceptional man

La Seca, Valladolid (Spain). Bodega Cuatro Rayas has just produced a great new wine that is destined to find a niche among the most prestigious whites in Spain. As great as the man who appears on its label: Amador Diez De Íscar, former president of the winery for 21 years. ‘Amador Diez’, the brand which figures on the unique label made from wood, comes from grapes of the oldest vineyards at Cuatro Rayas, specifically a selection made partially from the best 10 pre-phylloxera hectares over 100 years old located in Aldeanueva del Codonal (Segovia). This is the most artisan and exclusive product from both the Rueda Designation of Origin and the winery founded in 1935.

AMADOR DIEZ

Harvested by hand and selected with painstaking care, the bottle is already a reality after spending a period of fermentation in 600 liter barrels of new French oak, with bâtonnage for eight months. Noteworthy is its elaboration with indigenous yeasts from the winery, something unique and standing apart from the more commercial elaborations known to consumers of Rueda wines.

‘Amador 10’ will be a wine to be remembered just like the extraordinary person hidden behind its label. Bodega Cuatro Rayas owes a lot to Diez De Íscar, a person endowed with an extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit, a business vision and a character open to dialogue. No doubt, he was the author of the winery’s relaunch and responsible for its successful process of internationalization and modernization that has positioned the Cuatro Rayas brand as the driving force of the Rueda Designation of Origin.

With his memory in mind and his example alive in the heart of the Rueda winegrowers, Diez De Íscar assembles us again about wine, a sector he devoted his entire life to and which today returns to him, by way of gratitude, a small part of everything he did for the DO. ‘Amador 10’ an excellent wine inspired by an outstanding man.