Wine bottling is the end of the road of its production process, the last stage in which the winemaker can interfere. Once bottled, the wine goes through a slow but beautiful process of improvement and refinement that will further enhance its organoleptic profile. It is a process of great technical load, because without absolute control of the process, all the previous work can end up reducing the final quality of the wine.
Wine bottling: Previous steps
Several months before starting to bottle the wine, its assembly must be decided, ensuring a profile and quality that characterize the trajectory of the wine from previous vintages. As you know, in Resalte we work almost 90 hectares of Tempranillo spread over some 80 different plots, belonging to 15 different towns, such as Torre de Peñafiel.
The plots are grouped by soil, characteristics or viticulturist, but some of them, the best ones, are made separately. This leads us to the fact that at the end of the aging process, we find many wines with different characteristics and the final wine must have the best characteristics of each one.
Parallel to the assembly, we carry out a cork testing that we are going to use to check that they are of the highest quality. We also make sure that the wine has all the necessary physical and chemical conditions so that it can age in the bottle for many years. This includes an analysis of many determinations so as not to have to change the natural balance and harmony that the wine has acquired during its aging in barrels.
Care and studies before bottling the wine
One of those determinations is the PCR done before bottling to find out the wine status. Thanks to our racking system and application of natural cold to the barrel room during the coldest months of winter, our wines are always very clean and we do not need (nor do we want) to filter them.
When everything is ready for bottling, a day is dedicated to checking, cleaning and greasing the bottling machine, even carrying out microbiological cultures to ensure that the cleaning protocol has been carried out correctly.
Wine bottling: The Day
On bottling day, the temperature of the wine is checked, it should be around 15 degrees. Before filling the bottle, it is rinsed inside with water that has been deodorized and filtered with a system designed by ourselves and is subsequently filled with nitrogen. Thus, the wine inside the bottle will come into contact with a gas that will not modify its properties, and not with oxygen that could oxidize it.
With the first filled bottles, we analyze whether the level that the bottle should have according to the format is correct. It is checked that the corker is correctly placing the cork, so that the subsequent evolution of the wine in the bottle is optimal. It is also checked that the vacuum is being done correctly, that is, when the cork is placed, the space between the wine and the cork has neither pressure (we would be injecting air into the wine and it could oxidize) nor depression (we would be favoring the air intake from outside).
Previous to the vacuum, we fill the space with nitrogen, which is an inert gas that protects the wine, ensuring that when we have 0 pressure, the gas that remains is nitrogen and will not influence the wine.
The bottles that have been filled are accumulated in cages about 500 bottles each, and are kept standing for at least 48 hours, giving time for the cork to recover. This means that the cork, having to be compressed to place it in the neck of the bottle, must be given time so that, due to its elasticity, it recovers its original shape and the evolution in the bottle begins.
After this time, the cage is laid down and stored in the bottle rack, until its time to go to market. At the time of sale, it is when the labels are printed and put on the bottles, not before. The reason is that we export to more than 30 different countries, and many of them have special legislations, regarding specific legal information that must be included on each back label.
Wine bottles sizes
Our wines are bottled in different formats. Each size of wine bottle receives a different name based on its measurements:
- 750 ml: standard format
- 1500 ml: magnum
- 3000 ml: double magnum or Jeroboam
- 6000 ml: Mathusalem
Although initially it is the same wine, the relation between the size of the bottle and the natural cork stopper will affect its evolution and determine the rate of change and refinement. The larger formats or types evolve slower, because the transit of oxygen through the cork with respect to the volume of wine is smaller. Therefore, they are highly valued in the market.
Technical Director at Bodegas Resalte