Friday, 5 July 2013
The story behind Caligo Esssència is the result of a coincidence. It started with a plan: Pere (the oenologist and winemaker) planted Chardonnay vines and when the time was right went to harvest them to start the winemaking process. On arrival at the vineyard, he realized that the grapes weren’t as healthy as they should be; they were not in the best of conditions for winemaking so, disappointed, Pere left them in the state he found them on the vine.
Later, after looking at a book, and seeing some pictures of grapes affected by noble rot or botrytis cinerea Pere had an idea. He began to realise that his unhealthy grapes might not be such a bad thing after all. Botrytis forms due to a fungus causing two different types of infections Gray Rot and Noble Rot. Pere’s grapes had noble rot.
Noble rot only develops with wet or damp weather conditions, typically with the early morning mist followed by the heat of the sun. The fungus develops only in these very specific conditions of humidity and sunlight. The most immediate effect of botrytis is an increase in the concentration of sugar in the grapes, this is because the fungus survives in the water of grapes which feeds it. It also provides a higher concentration of acids and the resulting wine become very glyceric.
Wines made from noble rot grapes are predominantly from Sauternes (France) and Tokaji (Hungary), however in Catalonia (Spain) we also have these wines. They are found in Pontons, at the Mas Fonoll vineyard. Pere was no longer disappointed, he had a crop of noble rotted chardonnay perfect for making dessert wine, and so Caligo Essència was born.
Making dessert wine is a game of patience. The grapes are left on the vine right through autumn, the vines drop their leaves and the grapes begin to decline. Exact climatic conditions are needed to produce noble rot and importantly colder weather is needed to preserve and condense the flavours and aromas, patience is a must. Harvest must be at just the right time and the winemaking process can finally begin. Now, Pere and Toni make there are 3 variants of Caligo wine: Caligo, Caligo Essencia and Petit Caligo.
In 2003 they made the first test of Caligo, producing only 100 litres. This test proved successful and in 2005 they had the first 1,000 bottles on the market. They currently have 20 hectares of vines reserved for the production of wine by grapes affected by this rot. Each year, except 2011 as it was extremely dry, they have had noble rot conditions.
The Caligo Essència is a mist wine with a limited production due to the low productivity of the vineyard (350 l / Ha). The harvest is manual and must be done with great care, the grapes are then moved to the cellar for pressing, a vertical press is used. A six month fermentation process then begins at a low temperature, between 13 and 18 ° C. The wine is then transferred to 400 litre French oak barrels for ageing.
In appearance it is a clear and bright wine, with an intense gold colour. On swirling the legs are clearly visible legs showing us that it is a glyceric wine.
On the nose, the aromas are clean, with a medium+ intensity. Dry fruit aromas stand out, especially fig, apricot, peach, quince jelly, hints of orange peel and fresh spices. The aromas are layered with honey.
On the palate it has an unctuous sweetness, with medium acidity and medium+ body. The fruit flavours are well defined, especially cooked fruits (peach, apricot) and quince jelly. It also has citrusy flavours with hints of honey.
It is definitely a great and original wine, if you have the chance you should try it, don’t waste the opportunity! It goes well with nuts, but it is also excellent to accompany foie gras and blue cheeses.