Weekly wine defined: Solera System

Brynn writes:

Sorry guys, I’m running a day behind, so you’re getting our weekly wine word on Tuesday instead of Monday. I promise I’ll do better next week.

This week’s word is: Solera System

Here is a traditional winemaking process that is really out there.

In Spain, Sherry is made using the Solera system of blending to get its unique flavor. But Sherry is unique in several ways.

Normally, winemakers guard against letting air make contact with their wines, however Sherry is the exception. Barrels aging Sherry are not filled to the top, nor are they topped to keep air out; the bung is actually left loose enough to let air in.

Some styles of Sherry develop a protective yeast layer (or flor) that floats on the wine in barrel. This flor is also unique to the wine and area.

Using the Solera System, wines are aged through continuous blending of different vintages for a “house” style. Fractional blending is also done in part to keep the flor alive. At bottling time, they leave a “mother” in the barrel, no not the body. Mother is the base for the new vintage of Sherry.