Polus Maceración Carbónica
Polus Maceración Carbónica
Traditional winemaking at its best – if you haven’t tried carbonic maceration wines, now is your chance
- Producer: Bodegas Loli Casado
- Region: DOCa Rioja
- Vintage: 2022
- ABV: 13%
- Grape: Tempranillo, Viura
Medium purple with an intense nose of red fruit, this is Bodegas Loli Casado’s red wine made using carbonic maceration, a traditional winemaking technique popular among winemakers in Rioja where the grapes aren’t crushed at all prior to fermentation, but go into the tanks in whole clusters. This traditional winemaking process produces more brightly perfumed flavourful wines which many people associate with aromas like banana or kirsch.
More about Polus Maceración Carbónica
Who makes it
Bodegas Loli Casado is a traditional, family-run winery based in the little village of Lapuebla de Labarca in the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone of DOCa Rioja. The winery’s story began more than one hundred years ago with Loli’s grandfather, Eusebio. At that time, agriculture was the main activity in the area, with farmers growing cereals, olives and vines mainly for their own consumption. Like many others in the village, Eusebio’s family had their own underground cellar which is still used today to store wooden barrels filled with wine.
At that time, the grapes were carried by hand in barrels or comportones from the vineyard to the lago de piedra or stone tank where they fermented using the age-old technique of carbonic maceration.
By the 1960s, Loli’s father Luis was in charge and he converted a lot of the land from cereals to vineyard and began to buy up neighbouring plots to increase the size of the area under vine. The old winery remained, but Luis added a new building with underground concrete tanks where the wine would rest while it waited to be bottled.
In the 1980s, Luis decided it was time to create his own brand, and the Jaun de Alzate range of wines was born, which included barrel-aged crianza wines – no small feat for a small, family winery. It would have all been much harder without the constant help and support of his wife Emi – Loli’s mother – who in Loli’s own words ¨worked miracles out of nothing!¨Having grown up surrounded by vines, demijohns and bottles, Loli combined her job as a nurse with work at the winery where she was joined in 1989 by her husband, Jesús. The couple finally took over the family business in 2000 when Luis and Emi retired. The winery expanded and Loli and Jesús introduced newer, more contemporary-styled wines to add to the range. Now with 20 hectares of vineyards, Bodegas Loli Casado has come a long way since Eusebio’s day but the core philosophy remains the same: a respect for the vines and the vineyard, a focus on manual harvesting with a careful selection of top-quality fruit, and a respect for the natural environment.
Tempranillo is Spain’s most planted red grape variety, covering over 200,000 hectares - about one-fifth of all Spain’s vineyards. The name Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means "early". That’s because Tempranillo ripens early and has a shorter growing cycle than many other grapes.
Wines made from Tempranillo don’t tend to be too high in alcohol, which makes them relatively easy to drink and to pair with different foods. Tempranillo often have aromas like strawberries and other red fruits, and you can detect spice, leather and tobacco leaves. But the end result is as much down to the skill of the winemaker as it is to the grape variety itself.
Viura, also known as Macabeo, is Spain’s fifth-most widely-planted grape. You’ll find it used in lots of Spain’s wine-growing regions (with the exception of Galicia), as well as a little further afield in Roussillon in southern France where it tends to be used in blends. In Catalunya, Macabeo is one of the three main grapes commonly used in Cava (blended with Xarel-lo and Parellada).Within Rioja, Viura is pretty popular. In fact, it was one of the historic varieties which was first permitted when the DO was set up back in the 1920s. Winegrowers liked it because it was quite productive, and it still represents a little over 60% of all white varieties planted in Rioja and is an important part of the region’s exciting experimentation with new white wines.
Macabeo is a fairly adaptable grape variety, though it tends not to work so well in overly damp or dry climates. From a winemaker’s perspective, this grape has suffered from a bit of an image problem, being considered sometimes as a rather drab, non-aromatic grape. True it can have some nice orchard fruit flavours, but it has often been blended with other varieties to help perk it up a bit.
That said, for others, the grape’s neutrality can be a bonus. So for example, cava producers like it because it does well absorbing secondary flavours from lees contact while the wine is being made in the winery. And because in places like Rioja it’s been around for many decades, there are some lovely lower-yield, old vines that produce more complex flavours and work well with oak ageing.
When you’re tasting Macabeo/Viura, expect to find aromas of white fruit coupled with floral and sometimes aniseed notes. Macabeo/Viura wines tend to be fresh with good acidity and combine well with seafood, vegetable dishes or cheeses.
Where it's made
Rioja is one of Spain’s best known and best-loved wine regions and is on a par with renowned wine-producing regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy in France, or Barolo in northern Italy.
Sitting in the north of Spain, Rioja runs about 100 km from West to East and 40 km North to South, centred around the city of Logroño. The Ebro river runs through it from west to east. Rioja has just over 66,000 hectares of vineyards, which is about 7% of the Spanish total. In that area you'll find about 14,800 farmers who grow grapes which they then sell on to about 574 actual wine producers.
Traditionally, winemaking in Rioja has put a big focus on blending – mixing together grapes grown in different zones of the region to achieve balanced wines. But in recent years, Riojan producers are lobbying for changes to the rules to allow wine labels to include more specific references to where within Rioja the wines actually come from. It’s a move towards the more terroir-focused approach, used in lots of the other great wine regions of the world.
How it's made
Polus Maceración Carbónica is made from grapes planted 20 years ago in chalky clay soil in a 4 hectare vineyard plot just south of the town of Laguardia. Once the grapes have been harvested by hand, generally in the first week in October, the whole, unbroken clusters are put into stainless steel fermentation tanks. With the berries intact, an initial, intracellular fermentation begins within each grape berry before, gradually, the grapes split open under their own weight and normal fermentation resumes. This traditional winemaking process produces more brightly perfumed flavourful wines which many people associate with aromas like banana or kirsch.