It was like discovering a wine-cellar filled with bottles of amazing wine of a kind a flavour never tasted before. It quite intoxicated me.
– J.R.R. Tolkein
I have a new crush. This summer I visited Bodegas Luis Pérez – Luis Pérez Winery – and now I am in love with the place, the nature, the science, the wine and the beauty.
Bodegas Luis Pérez is a relatively new winery. It was founded in 2002 by the prestigious University Professor of Chemistry and Enology, Luis Pérez. He had a vision to build his own winery with the help of his family. The project was beautifully carried out, and has now turned into a successful wine producing company. It is located on top of a hill in the Andalusian town of Jerez, surrounded by an amazing view of the Andalusian countryside, plus of it’s own vineyards. Just like a beautiful dream.
I was lucky be able to visit Bodegas Luis Pérez guided by none other but one of his daughters. She herself is a chemist, so I was treated to not just the popular touristy aspects of a winery, but also to all the nerdy scientific insights of the grapes and of the wine making process. You know I like that.
Jerez – or Sherry in English – is an area that thrives on vineyards. Today most of the vineyards specialise in sherry style wines, which are mainly white wines. Luis Pérez decided to specialise in red wines instead. This caused quite an uproar in the region amongst the other wineries. However, he pointed out that in fact, red wine was originally produced in the region since thousands of years ago, so we could say it was like a return to their origins. Whatever the case, their red wine producing endeavour has already proven to be a success.
Apart from the taste, red wine is interesting! Maybe you had realised – because I hadn’t until now – that the juice from red grapes is in fact whitish transparent in colour. To give red wine it’s rich red colour, the grapes firstly need to be macerated with all its components. The pigments from the skin of the grapes is what will give the wine its colour. The seeds will be there in the macerated mix too, so the quality of the seeds are of utmost importance. They are where the tannins are concentrated. Tannins give quite a bitter taste and are astringent, so they will give that rough astringent quality to red wines. Therefore, with red wines, the variety and quality of the grapes are important so that the seeds let out the desired tannins and taste.
Once the grapes are harvested, they are macerated in big steel vessels.