BLANC DE NOIR FROM BODEGAS ANTONIO ARRÁEZ
Perhaps you’ve heard me at one of my wine tastings explaining to those who don’t know, how rosado wine is made? It’s not, as many will know, made by mixing a bottle of red wine with a bottle of white wine. Although there are still rosados made by using black grape must (juice) mixed with white grape must, the white dumbing down, in terms of colour, the dark red, and of course adding freshness, acidity and aroma to the finished, rosé coloured brew.
However the vast majority of rosé wines are made by using black skinned grapes. Yes, the same varieties that make the full bodied, richly coloured red wines that we love: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot et al. But how can this be?
Well, the next time you buy some grapes, black and green, just for a second take the time to cut one of each type in half and study the centre of the grape. You’ll find that the flesh of the grape at its centre and going outwards towards the skin, is in fact the same colour for black and green grapes.
The juice of both types of grape would be the same if it weren’t for the skins which are pressed in order to release the juice. The black grapes also release some of their colour and when the grape is further pressed and then the must is left in contact with the skins the colour of the juice changes to a much darker red as more colour leaks from the skins. The results is the black grape must which will next be fermented ending up with a red wine.
However if the colour leaking process is interrupted part way through – the colour of the must will be less than red, more of a pinky colour, really – rosé. Hence, while a red wine is red by virtue of the time its must spends in contact with the black skins, a rosado wine is rosé coloured because it spends less time with those skins.
Ergo it must be possible to make a white wine from black grapes by keeping the juice and the skins separate. It can’t be totally white as the pressing, albeit very gentle, is bound to release a little of the colour contained in the skin, but in order to limit this colouring as much as possible the must is whisked away from skins in double quick time!
What’s left is a juice, and ultimately a wine that has the palest of pink hues, or sometimes a little similar to onion skin colour, in fact just like the Monastrell Blanc.the wine to be described in a moment, from Bodegas Antonio Arráez.
But why do it, one may ask? We already have: white wine, rosado, red, as well as many different styles within those colours. Do we need another type of wine?
Well, for sure, such wines have a novelty value – there aren’t many produced (Blanc Monastrell is a limited production of just 2,400 bottles) and their rarity is of interest to those keen on tasting different wines. This wine will be a sell-out, if it hasn’t already. However, given the chance next year to buy the same wine – will people do so again, having tasted the first, initially just to try it, to see what it’s like?
Blanc de Noir wines (white from black) are made to satisfy a demand, albeit small at the moment (but definitely increasing) for wines that combine the freshness of a crisp white wine with the rich, depth of flavour of a red. They also satisfy a winemaker’s desire to make something different, something special.
I think it goes without saying (but that’s never stopped me before!) that such wines will always have enjoyed the winemaker’s loving attention – it’s unusual, something of a vino d’autor, and will thus be his or her ‘baby’ causing her/him to pay perhaps even more attention to it than others from the same stable.
I’m certain that those of us who have tasted Bodegas Antonio Arráez’s Monastrell Blanc 2011, will return to it next year, and so on!
The colour, pink-hued pale onion skin, is unusual but pleasant in the glass and when pouring one is treated to a burst of floral, red rose aroma with at first unidentified fruit, including citrus, lingering in the air and seemingly clinging to the sides of the glass.
Raise that glass and on the palate and the treat expands with both dark and light red fruit (blackberry, Victoria plum, loganberry) notes as well as some grapefruit abounding but with a gentle herby aroma allied to the faintest whiff of cranberry too!
It has a mid-length, dry finish which leaves the palate with a richness but freshness too. Super wine – let’s have more!
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