Everything you wanted to know about white wines aged on lees, but were afraid to ask

Todo lo que querías saber sobre los vinos blancos criados sobre lías, pero temías preguntar

Let’s talk about whites aged on lees. Surely on many occasions you have heard this phrase and have wondered what it means and have not dared to ask. Well, today I’m going to make it clearer.

Let’s start at the beginning,do you know what lees are? At harvest time we collect the grapes, and the most important initial process for the sugar in the grapes to be converted into alcohol is fermentation. For this to be possible, it is necessary to have the yeasts that are responsible for converting grape sugar into alcohol. Once fermentation is complete, the dead yeast cells remain suspended in the fermentation vessel.

Well, there we have the lees, suspended in a container, which can be made of oak, concrete or stainless steel according to the winemaker’s choice. Lees are found in white, rosé and red wines. Aging on lees is more common in white wines, since for red wines there are other techniques focused on working on color, aromas, volume, body and tannins. In this text, we are going to focus on the white wines on lees that Familia Martínez Bujanda elaborates in Finca Antigua  in Cuenca, with the Viura variety; and in Finca Montepedroso in Rueda, with the variety  verdejo.

Depending on the style of wine we want to produce, the winemaker will decide which techniques to apply for each of them. We always tell you that our estates stand out for being located in the best terroirs of their appellation, which have optimal conditions for growing grapes, due to their altitude, climate and soil. To this we add the training and experience of our winemaker Lauren Rosillo, who traveled to different wine regions such as New Zealand and South Africa, areas that stand out for the prestige of their white wines, to learn how they worked. His decision was clear: he wanted to make a white wine that would add texture and complexity, while maintaining the flavors of the grape variety.

Both Finca Antigua Viura and Finca MontepedrosoThe alcoholic fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks. After the fermentation and in the tank itself, the aging on its own lees would begin. What happens now?… if we do nothing, the lees would remain in the lower part of the tank by pure decantation… the technique we perform every 7-10 days is the “batonage”, French word, which means to stir the contents of the tank with a stick (Bâton in French) to get the lees in contact with the must. This technique is carried out on these 2 wines for about 4-5 months. This is why they are not young whites that are released in January, but the new vintage is usually released in March-April.

In short,what does this technique bring to wine? Aging on the lees not only preserves the flavor and aromas of the grapes, but also helps to maintain greater stability against oxidation, but above all, it gives the wine volume, texture, body, structure, smoothness, complexity and greater longevity. Our wines can be enjoyed over the years without any problem. We will see the evolution from a fresh fruit to a dried/cooked fruit, and with time in bottle, we will also perceive notes of dried fruits, honey, ginger… In short, wines that do not go unnoticed and that you can enjoy and pair with your favorite dishes.

Now it’s your turn, visit our store, white lot. Taste them and let us know what you think of them and if you notice the complexity that aging on lees brings.

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