WINE UNDER FLOR
Thinking about it now, all those years later, I find it quite unbelievable that I didn’t study Science at school! I’m the first to admit that, despite my Mum being a pharmacist and my brother doing well at Science and Maths at the Grammar School, across the fields from us Sec Mod types, I was, at best a slow learner, science wise, at worst, and probably more accurately, pretty useless.
But to just give up on me, as well as the other half dozen or so, and create a nonsense subject called ‘Rural Science’, beggars belief, these days! The more so, when in fact, Rural Science, meant watering the school plants more than anything else! I’m laughing as I write – but, honestly, it’s a disgrace!
So, I know that, had I ever embarked upon the arduous course to become a Master of Wine (MW, of which there are fewer than 400 in the world), it would have been the science aspect that would have held me back – sin duda! That’s not to say, I should point out immediately, that I consider that I have all the other attributes necessary to achieve such status, but it’s for sure that I’d have failed, even if the rather apt ‘Rural Science’ had actually been a course worth following!
So I had to turn recently to two of my friends and colleagues for their advice about making the eponymous, wine under flor. Andrew Halliwell (@ADHalliwell) is an award winning winemaker, consulting for wineries here in Spain; Fintan Kerr (@Wine_Cuentista), also based in Spain, is a nascent Master of Wine, currently well on his way to achieving that hallowed title. Both are mines of information, to whom I unashamedly turn when the need arises! Thank you both!
Flor is a film of yeast that can form on the surface of a wine that’s fermenting. If you’ve ever been on a tour of a Sherry House it’s likely that you’ve seen it in a demo barrel whose ends are glass rather than wood. In fact this is probably the most famous use of flor, when it is involved in the making of Sherry.
However, it has also traditionally been employed in the production of Vin Jaune, French wine made close to the Swiss border and Tokaji, prized dessert wine from Hungary. as well as some other areas of wine production. Occasionally, right now, one hears of wines made using this method – for example, Pepe Mendoza Casa Agricola is experimenting (read on!). https://www.facebook.com/pepemendozacasaagricola/
Whilst eating sugars in the liquid (wine in progress), Flor protects it from oxygen, which would turn it into vinegar. Containers are not filled to the brim, allowing the flor to form. Usually the base wine is high in alcohol with a low ph (quite high acidity). Tinajas are an ideal receptacle for making wine using this method, so it’s no surprise that Pepe Mendoza used them to make the wine I recently tried, as it is these earthenware pots that he uses to make his excellent Orange wine, Pureza.
Indeed, there are aromas and flavours in his Merseguera variety, Vino Flor, similar to those found in some Orange/Amber wines – which, in an instant endeared the wine to me, for sure! But, Pepe’s unnamed wine (it’s an experimental wine, which I for one hope will become part of his portfolio of wines made at the new bodega in Llíber/Jalón, Alicante – the subject of a recent Cork Talk and archived here www.colinharknessonwine.com click Articles) has a lot more going on!
My wife, the lovely www.clairemarie.es was ecstatic about this wine, picking up immediately the Vin Jaune notes and declaring that we really must taste it again sometime, paired with cubed Compté Fruité, which is traditional in the home of Vin Jaune! Well, why not?
I also found an aroma, and to an extent, the taste, of ‘en rama’ sherry, the subject of another Cork Talk (https://www.colinharknessonwine.com/2046/#more-‘), again, this is a very endearing characteristic!
There are some lemony citrus notes, with a brief, but reoccurring ripe apple aroma and it’s got plenty of presence on the palate, with an engagingly long finish. As you can see the experimental ‘label’ on this experimental wine has rubbed off a little and there’s no sign of an abv figure, but, judging by its mouth-feel I think the wine is quite high in alcohol, perhaps 14ª – though I don’t know, of course.
All in all, this wine is close to being sensational! Loved it!
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