Wine knowledge

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In recent years, viticulture and preparation of regional dishes have taken
off. More and more wines and regional dishes are becoming known. We bring
these products together on this platform and would like to introduce you to the
different winemakers and regional kitchens

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TASTING WINE

1. WATCH

It is best to determine the color and tint of your wine on a white background. You will discover the clarity and the thickness & speed of the tears (viscosity). The latter says nothing about the quality of the wine, but about the alcohol and sugar content

2. SMELL

Hold the glass directly under your nose and take one pinch to warm your nose.

3. ROLLERS

By rolling you add oxygen to your glass, which means that more aromas are released. The smells are more perceptible and more intense.

4. SMELL AGAIN

This time smell the wine longer and slower. Do you smell mistakes? What type of aromas do you find? Discover it via the aroma wheel.

5. TASTING + INTAKE AIR

Take a large sip followed by a few smaller sips. That way you can best isolate and recognize flavors. By drawing in air you will be able to taste the aromas more clearly. Pay extra attention to the sweetness, acidity, tannins, alcohol and body of the wine. Good luck!

6. ENJOY

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GRAPES

First the winegrowers will harvest their grapes. Manual picking and cooling during transport to the winery are methods to reduce the risk of oxidation. After this, the grapes are stripped and destemmed upon entry of all impurities such as rotten grapes, twigs and leaves. Sometimes a winemaker chooses not to destalk the grapes when the stems are perfectly ripened. The stems can provide the wine with extra quality and taste.

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RED WINE

The second step in the vinification of red wine is crushing the grapes. The grapes are mechanically crushed to release the juice. This allows the extraction process (contact between peel and juice) to happen faster and more intensively. The bruising must be done gently so as not to break the pips. Seeds add a bitter taste to the wine.

The fermentation

During the first fermentation, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. When making red wine, the skins remain with the must after bruising throughout the fermentation, because in this case the color and aromas can be extracted to the maximum.

For red wines, the fermentation takes place at a temperature between 20 to 35 degrees to obtain a maximum extraction of color and flavors. After this first fermentation, depending on the type of wine, a second fermentation (malolactic) follows. The malic acid present is converted during this second fermentation into the softer lactic acid.
Thanks to this process, the wine gains in smell, taste and stability - factors that are essential for a good wine. Sometimes this second fermentation can take place shortly after the alcoholic fermentation, but can also take place a few weeks later. In almost all cases, malolactic fermentation is applied to red wine.

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WHITE WINE

The second step in the vinification of white wine is the pressing of the grapes. This allows the extraction process (contact between peel and juice) to happen faster and more intensively. The pressing must be done gently so as not to break the seeds. Seeds add a bitter taste to the wine.

The fermentation process

During the first fermentation, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. When making white wine, a cold pre-fermentation is sometimes used: the grapes are crushed and the skins are brought into contact with the must between 4 and 24 hours. This gives the wine aroma, color, aroma and taste. After this first fermentation, depending on the type of wine, a second fermentation (malolactic) follows. The malic acid present is converted during this second fermentation into the softer lactic acid.
Thanks to this process, the wine gains in smell, taste and stability - factors that are essential for a good wine. Sometimes this second fermentation can take place shortly after the alcoholic fermentation, but can also take place a few weeks later. With white wine, malolactic fermentation is not a rule because many of these wines derive their attractiveness from the freshness of the malic acids.

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RED WINE

The basic rule for the color of wine is that the color of a wine is determined by the amount of time the skin is in contact with the juice. Rose is therefore mainly made from red grape varieties. Red grapes, like white wine grapes, have a colorless juice after pressing. Only after a while, the skins of the red grape, when they are not removed from the mixture, have the opportunity to release their color. And that is how pink arises.

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SPARKLING WINE

The traditional method : At the basis of all sparkling wines is an 'ordinary' still wine. Grapes are picked and pressed, after which fermentation occurs by adding yeast. The sugars in the grapes are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This is done in open barrels so that the carbon dioxide evaporates.

Second fermentation : the wine is filled in bottles to which a little wine with sugar and yeast is added, the so-called 'liqueur de tirage'. Those bottles are usually closed with a crown cap. A second fermentation occurs, but because the bottles are closed, the carbon dioxide cannot escape. The bubbles remain in the wine.

Delete depot . The bottles are placed slightly obliquely in special racks, so-called 'pupitres'. Then the bottles are carefully rotated and shaken according to a fixed pattern. They are always placed slightly more vertically with the neck down. This process is called 'remuage' and is sometimes done by hand, sometimes with a special machine, a 'gyropalette'. By applying this technique, the yeast cells that have done their work end up very slowly in the neck of the bottle. And of course they still have to get out.

Dégorgement : for this, the neck of the bottle is briefly frozen and the crown cap is removed. Due to the pressure created in the bottle, the frozen piece, where the yeast cells are located, pops out of the bottle. This is called the 'dégorgement'. Then a little bit of wine is added quickly to make up for this 'loss'. Then you add a little sugar, depending on how dry or sweet you want the final sparkling wine. This is called the 'liqueur d'expedition'.

Finally, the cork: the bottle is provided with a special cork with a muselet around it. If that iron frame were not around it, the cork could easily pop out of the bottle. The pressure is now about 6 bar. The sparkling wine is then 'finished', but often the bottles do not leave the cellars yet. These mature for several months to years, depending on the requirements of the maker's wishes.

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SOIL COMPOSITION

The soil composition has a major influence on the taste of the wine. This is caused by factors such as water storage capacity, airiness, heatability and mineral content. Loess and the underlying marl can retain a lot of moisture, so that there is not quickly a surplus of water, but also no chance of drought stress. Due to the airy structure, the gas exchange around the roots is optimal, and the soil warms up much faster than clay. Loess is rich in minerals, the marl base naturally contains a lot of lime and magnesium and glauconite also contains a lot of iron and potassium.

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LOOSE AND LIME

The loess / lime combination clearly scores highest on fruitiness. It is also known that lime contributes to the preservation of acids and often gives a slight carbonation tingling to the wines. Although located quite to the north, the Mergelland has sufficient heat thanks to geography and soil to allow the grapes to ripen well. The relatively cool climate is rather favorable, the Merg mediter grapes can reach their full physiological maturity without too high rising sugar content necessitating premature picking. Excessive alcohol levels, an increasing problem in southern wine regions, do not occur. The long ripening period (from “veraison” to harvest) gives the grape enough time to collect aroma, minerals and extract.

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HEAT AND WATER

Sufficient heat and sunlight during the day are of course required for timely maturation, cool nights play a major role in the wine's flavor profile. On warm nights, the metabolism continues to run fast and, in the absence of sunlight, the grape uses malic acid as an energy source. Cool nights delay the breakdown of malic acid, so that the wine still contains enough acids when ripe. This acid gives the wine its freshness and plays a crucial role in the formation of aromas (especially esters) during fermentation. The influence of water supply on the taste was investigated by Prof. dr. Kees van Leeuwen (École Nationale des Ingénieurs de Travaux Agricole in Bordeaux). He determined that a slight lack of water is optimal for the quality. The natural drainage, the water storage capacity of the soil and the low precipitation surplus in the Mergelland provide the grapes with just this condition.

 

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QUALITY

Mergelland wines are characterized by a typical combination of fruitiness, fresh elegance and minerality. the interplay of variety, soil, geography and climate unique in the Netherlands. The special quality of Merg mediterranean wine is recognized nationally and internationally

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AUXERROIS

Auxerrois is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content between 11.5% and 12%. The appearance of the wines is light in color (lemon yellow) and clear. Some wines still contain a small portion of carbon dioxide, which is noticed during serving and which the consumer perceives as positive (“Spritzigkeit”). In the nose, the wines are very pure with slightly primary aromas of ripe yellow apples, sometimes green pear. Secondary aromas are not noticeable at Auxerrois. The taste of the wines is dry with a fine and soft acidity. The wines are fruity, light in body (mouthfeel) and aromas. The aromas of apples and pear can be found in the taste of the wines. The aftertaste of Auxerrois is often mineral, that is, it creates a tingling sensation on the back of the tongue. The wines are light in complexity and intensity. The style is light and dry with soft fruity aromas.

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CHARDONNAY

Chardonnay is fermented in both the stainless steel and oak barrels in the Mergelland and ages on average between 6 months and 1-2 years in barrels (both stainless steel and oak) and in the bottle. The wines have an average alcohol content between 12.5% and 13.5%. The appearance of the wines is clear with the color straw yellow to medium golden yellow (influence of wood). In the nose, the wines are very pure with fruit flavors of lemon, sometimes sugar melon.

Secondary aromas such as butter (through lactic acid fermentation), toast and vanilla (through the use of wood) and complex aromas such as yeast (through bâtonnage) are usually tasted in Limburg Chardonnay's. The taste of the wines is dry.

The mouthfeel varies from tight to creamy (depending on the year and the vinification). Merg mediterranean Chardonnay retains the necessary freshness even after lactic fermentation and wood maturation. The wines are fruity with a medium body. Fruit aromas are often enhanced in the taste by secondary aromas such as dairy aromas and wood flavors. The better wines of this grape are complex (rich in different flavors). The style is dry and mouth-filling with a good dose of freshness.

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RIVANER / MULLER THURGAU

Rivaner / Müller-Thurgau is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content between 11.5% and 12%. The appearance of the wines is lemon yellow to straw yellow and clear. In the nose, the wines are very pure with an intense touch of nutmeg (if the yield is kept low) supported by a large portion of fruit flavors of ripe apples and white stone fruits (peach). Secondary aromas are not noticeable at Rivaner / Müller-Thurgau. The taste of the wines is dry to off-dry (some producers work with Süßreserve) with a fine and soft acidity. The wines are primarily fruity, light to medium in body (mouthfeel) and intense aromas. The aromas of nutmeg and white stone fruit can be found in the taste of the wines. The wines are light in complexity, but have a medium to high intensity of aromas. The style is fruity and dry / off-dry with an intense nutmeg aroma (with low yields).

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PINOT BLANC

Pinot Blanc is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content of 12.5%. The wines are light in color (lemon yellow) with green shades and clear. In the nose, the wines are very pure with soft scents of yellow fruit and lime blossom. Secondary aromas are not noticeable at Pinot Blanc. The taste of the wines is dry with a fine and soft acidity. The wines are fruity, light in body (mouthfeel) and aromas. The aromas of yellow fruit, sometimes pear or sugar melon, can be found in the taste of the wines. The wines are medium in complexity and light in intensity. The style is light and dry with soft fruity aromas.

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PINOT GRIS

Pinot Gris is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. There are producers who age a small percentage of their Pinot Gris in oak barrels. The wines have an average alcohol content between 12.5% and 13%. The appearance of the wines is intense straw yellow, sometimes golden yellow (influence of wood) and clear. In the nose, the wines are pure with intense aromas of yellow pears, honey (sometimes almonds). Secondary aromas such as toast and vanilla (through the use of wood) emerge with the wood-aged versions. The taste of the wines is dry to off-dry, rich in extracts with a low to medium acidity. The wines are fruity (ripe fruit), medium to full in body (mouthfeel) and aromas. Fruit aromas are often enhanced in the taste by secondary aromas such as wood flavors. The better wines of this grape are complex (rich in different flavors) and have the potential to age (3-8 years). The style is dry to off-dry with intense flavors, partly powerful and fruity in the aftertaste.

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RIESLING

Riesling is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content of 11.5%. The wines are lemon yellow and clear in appearance. In the nose, the wines are very pure with intense scents of white stone fruit (peach) and apples, sometimes green pear. Secondary aromas (goût de pétrole) can be noticed at Riesling from the Mergelland after 3-5 years.

The taste of the wines is very fruity, dry with a high / refreshing acidity. The wines are fruity and light in body (mouthfeel). The aromas of white stone fruit and pear can be found in the taste of the wines. Wine connoisseurs experience positive aromas such as gout de pétrole as positive. The finish of Riesling is fruity and aromatic. The style is aromatic, light, dry with refreshing acids and a lot of fruit in the finish.

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GEURZTRAMINER

Gewürztraminer is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and matured in barrel for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content between 12.5% and 13.5%. The appearance of the wine is intense yellow with light golden reflexes. This warm yellow color is due to the red color of the grape. De Geur is a true aromatic palette, rich and overwhelming. The nose is powerful and complex, an explosion of exotic fruit (lychee, passion fruit, pineapple, mango), flowers (especially roses), citrus fruit (orange peel), and spices (gingerbread, peppermint, cloves, pepper). Often there are aromas of honey and ripe fruits. The wine has a lot of body, is structured and full. Typically, the acids are quite discreet. In the aftertaste, the entire aroma spectrum of the nose returns, often with some liquorice.

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PINOT NOIR

Pinot Noir is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and matures for about 6-12 months in barrel (both stainless steel and oak) and in bottle. The wines have an average alcohol content between 12.5% and 13%. The appearance of the wines is ruby red (in young versions with a violet rim) to garnet red and clear. On the nose, the wines are intense and fruity, scented with red berries. Due to wood aging, secondary aromas of toast (sometimes vanilla) are added. The best examples are also complex (spicy, slightly medicinal, bitter almonds). The taste of the wines is dry and fruity with a harmonious acid / tannin content. The wines are full in body (mouthfeel) and aromas. The aromas of red berries (raspberry, strawberries) can be tasted in the wines. The style is complex, intense, dry with soft fruity aromas and secondary flavors (on the better versions).

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DORNFELDER

Dornfelder is fermented in stainless steel barrels in the Mergelland and aged in barrels for about 6 months. The wines have an average alcohol content between 12.5% and 13.5%. The Dornfelder is ideal for fall and winter, especially when she has had some ripening. They also go with hearty meat dishes, game or cheese. On the other hand, young, fruity versions, even slightly chilled in the summer, also offer a lot of drinking pleasure.

The Dornfelder has intense fruit aromas of amare cherries, blackberries and elderberries.

The Dornfelder is a deep red, berry fruit, solid wine. The wine has a lot of body, is structured and full. Typically, the acids are quite discreet. In the aftertaste, the entire aroma spectrum of the nose returns, often with some liquorice.

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VERAISON

Véraison is the coloring of white grapes in the month of August. Red grapes are white at first but under the influence of heat and the days get shorter they start to discolour in early August. This heralds the start of the maturation phase, which can last for weeks. White grapes also discolour. From light green to dark green, rosé or even blue and gray. The red grapes turn from green to dark blue and black. The skin becomes softer with the discoloration. The amount of vitamin C present in young grapes is decreasing, but the amount of sugar is increasing rapidly. The latter is partly due to the conversion of malic acid. The grapes also swell quickly in stage and therefore need enough water. The acidity decreases and the sugar content increases. In taste, the grape becomes sweet very quickly! The acidity drops, but the amount of acids remains the same. (only the grape is larger, so relatively less acidic) Later, when the grapes are almost ripe, the amount of acids decreases and determining the time to start harvesting becomes important. It is sometimes difficult to determine the right moment when the grapes are physiologically ripe

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CRAFTSMANSHIP

We talk about it every day: the weather, how it changes, that it seems to get more and more extreme, that it is so hot for the time of year, that summer doesn't go through. The weather is of great importance for viticulture, among other things. Not only Dutch winegrowers experience this challenge.

Viticulture is possible between the 30th and 50th degrees of the North and the 30th and 50th of the South. In those areas, winter is not too cold, summer is warm enough, autumn with occasional rainfall and warmth. The Netherlands is on the 51st degree and therefore just outside the border. Yet there are quite a few winegrowers in the Netherlands who do it and produce tasty wine!

Sun (which we sometimes experience lack of in the Netherlands) ripens the grapes. The more sun, the riper the grape and the higher sugar content in the grape. During the fermentation of the grape, sugar converts into alcohol. It is therefore a challenge for Dutch winegrowers not to get the wine too sour. Just as it is a challenge for the Macedonian winegrower to get some acids in the wine, without too much alcohol. Every climate has its own challenge.

In the Netherlands we still had frost in the spring. This destroys the buds of the grape vine, which can lower the yield. Hailstorms can also have devastating effects at multiple times. If it hails early, the young shoots of the stick are destroyed, if it hails late, the grape breaks and rot. Too much rain can also rot the grape and too little sun will cause unripe grapes with a low sugar content. Finally, too much leaf growth is detrimental to the growth of the bunches and poor fertilization (due to a storm, for example) can cause 1 bunch to contain both ripe and unripe grapes.

The weather is therefore of great importance when growing grapes. There are many technical tools to help winegrowers protect the harvest, but these are often expensive and not for every winegrower. In addition, Mother Nature is the boss and you can not arm yourself against everything.

Grape vines can grow on any soil, but the more fertile the soil, the higher the yield and the poorer the quality! The best grapes grow in a soil in which a vine has to let its roots go deep into the ground to absorb nutrients. Grapes absorb the taste of the soil.

It is not for all vineyards to say what is best in terms of location. When there is little sun, you want the vineyard in a place where the sun can shine maximally. In a warm climate, you want to provide some shade. When the wind blows hard, a vineyard is better protected. If there is no wind and it is warm, water nearby is ideal again so that the cool breeze from the water can cool the grapes and provide them with moist air. So we look at what is best per area and also the question is what kind of wine you want to produce. If you go for a sweet or high alcohol percentage, you need the sun. If you go for higher acids, there will have to be more shelter.

Of course, the grape variety influences the wine that is produced. Each variety gives its own taste. Every grape that is suitable for making wine (Vitis Vinifera) is colorless inside. Therefore, it is possible to make white wine from blue grapes. Red wine arises because the grapes are soaked in the skins after pressing. When white wine is made from blue grapes, the skin is removed immediately after pressing. An example of a blue grape that we all know, from which white wine is made, is Pinot Noir.

All of these variables together make growing grapes for wine production and the production itself is really a matter of craftsmanship. The winegrower learns to grow the perfect grape for his vineyard through trial and error and tries to achieve the same quality every year.

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