MS Topic of the Week 12/18/2019 - Master

Lots of insight on shochu last post by , , , , and .

This week: Solera as a tool

What is the purpose of this technique? What happens to the abv as the wine ages? Name another 3 regions and producer examples outside of the Sherry Triangle that utilize this method.

  • Not sure understand the question about ABV. Those changes really depend on relative humidity. A solera held at 80% humidity will see the ABV go down, though most of the time there will be an increase because that's an insane environment to age wine in. 

    Purpose for consistency and complexity. 

    Champagne. Jacques Selosse. 

    Rousillon/Catalonia. Mas Peyre

    Guatemala. Ron Zacapa.

  • Nate Ready at Hiyu in the Columbia Gorge, Washington, makes an incredible solera blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

    For me, the purpose is harmoniously complexifying a wine with more mature as well as younger components, and there's something about the idea of allowing the blending and maturing to happen this way, rather than taking umpteen reserve wines to blend precisely, Krug-style, that appeals to me in its organic-seeming nature.  Even if that is all arguable/subjective.  I suspect it's also more cost effective than keeping all the vintages as separate components.

  • ZD's "Abacus" Napa Red Wine is a solera, or perpetual reserve, wine that goes for around $1000 on a wine list.  

    ABV in a solera that sees flor would decrease as the flor metabolizes the alcohol.  ABV in a solera without flor would increase due to angel's share if it was in a porous vessel allowing evaporation, or would stay constant if in an imperable vessel like closed stainless steel.  It also will depend on the temperature of storage: hotter, more evaporation, more increase in ABV in the absence of flor.

    Another purpose would be to escew vintage variations.  You want to consistently serve a high end Napa Cab, or Champagne, and don't want to have to worry about good v. bad vintages, a solera smooths out the rough edges, but at the same time you would also miss any of the true highs of great vintages.

  • Another example outside the Sherry Triangle is Marco de Bartoli’s “Vecchio Samperi” in Marsala. It is a 100% Grillo and unfortified, in honor of the oldest form of Marsala before fortification was introduced and the influence of Sherry, Port, and Madeira made its way to Sicily. (The lack of fortification disqualifies it from Marsala DOC.) New, young wines are added to those aging in oak and chestnut barrels, using the “perpetuo” (solera) system, creating a blend of different vintages with an average age of 15 years.  

  • Would´t ABV icrease as Flor metabolizes sugars and decrease due to evaporation?