04 Oct Into the cellar – Maturation
Maturation of wine
The maturation of wine is one of the most important processes of its preparation. Depending on the characteristics of the grapes and the kind of wine we want to obtain, the maturation takes place into different containers. In some cases the container is made by a neutral material, such as the stainless steel or the cement. In other cases, the wine stays into wood barrels.
The maturation of full-bodied red wines, such as the Riserva wines, typically takes place into durmast wood barrels. Notably, the wood mitigates the tannins of wines, giving them more roundedness and pleasantness. Indeed, tannins are a chimical component of some kinds of vegetables and they are present in the wine and the wood. Because of this the choice of the wood, in relation to the kind of wine, is fundamental for the process success. Indeed, toasted or too aromatic woods could influence the wine, altering its original taste instead of enhancing it.
In order to maintain the traditional characteristics of Sangiovese wine – our principal vine variety – as much as possible, at Monterinaldi we use to privilege woods with a lower impact. As a result, the gradual substitution of the 225 liters barriques with higher capacity barrels is proceeding every year. The first changes occurred with the 500 liters tonneaux, followed by the 750 liters barrels, which had an excellent result. For this reason, we decided to start using even larger barrels, because the larger they are the lower is their impact. Consequently, their low impact on the wine allows us to maintain all the natural characteristics of the Sangiovese, in order to have a higher quality wine.
Back to origins
It is interesting to notice that in Chianti Classico we are partially going back to the past, when our wines used to mature into barrels of remarkable capacity, until 65 hectoliters. Two of those samples of old barrels are exposed at the entrance of our cellar.
From this year we started to use three new made in Italy barrels, which can contain 30 hectoliters of wine. They have different characteristics: two of them are made with French durmast (Allier forests) and the third is made by mixed wood from the region of Slavonia (Croatia) and from France. These are fine-grained barrels, made with a wood that have low permeability, with a slower release of tannins than the tonneaux.
The wine has to mature for longer periods when the process takes place into this type of bigger barrels (14/18 months) rather the smaller barrels (6/12 months). This is necessary because the Sangiovese wine has a very better maturation into bigger barrels. On the contrary, the smaller barriques are more suitable for other kinds of wine that contain more tannins, such as the Merlot, the Petit Verdot or the Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The duration of these bigger barrels is about 10 years and we use them especially for the maturation of our Chianti Classico Riserva.