Concrete egg: on the hunt for the essence of albariño

The work with concrete egg in Pazo Baión has yielded great results

Pazo Baión’s winemaking team works with a concrete egg in its elaborations. This original container enhances the natural qualities of wines such as albariño by facilitating micro-oxygenation

Wine is a path of exploration. Of permanent search to create more authentic wines. Different wines. A journey in which many factors are involved: the raw material, the terroir, the winemakers knowledge… Of course, also the tanks in which the elaborations mature and evolve. Like the concrete egg, one of the pieces that arouse most curiosity among visitors to Pazo Baión.

Its unique shape and the contrast it generates among the winery’s imposing stainless steel tanks generate day after day an endless number of questions: What is it for? What properties does it contribute to Pazo Baión’s single-estate albariños? Why is there only one?

To solve all these questions, we have turned to the person who probably knows best the secrets of our wines. She is Andrea Obenza, Pazo Baión’s winemaker.

A respected professional whose knowledge is behind the winery’s three winemaking processes: Pazo Baión, Gran a Gran and Vides de Fontán.

Before getting into the subject, it’s perhaps appropriate to explain that concrete is not a new product in the European wine universe. On the contrary, in the 19th century, it was a very common material for storing and fermenting wine.

Over time, steel and aluminum tanks became popular with winemakers. Until today, when concrete has emerged with force again, now, however, in the form of an egg, to give wines even more pronounced personalities.

At Pazo Baión, the concrete egg is an asset to give its albariño single-vineyard wines even more distinctive qualities.

One of the singularities of this exotic tank is that it doesn’t add properties to the wine-making process, something that does occur, for example, with aging in wooden barrels.

Wines fermented in concrete eggs evolve towards the flavors more typical of the grape. Towards the most genuine essence of albariño.
This is mainly due to the porosity of the tank, which facilitates the micro-oxygenation of the tannins. Something more complex to achieve in a natural way with stainless steel containers.

Obenza explains that the concrete enhances the wine’s more mineral characteristics and balances the acidity. An exercise that gives Pazo Baión’s albariños a powerful identity.

Notes specific to the variety

«It’s like being able to age in barrels but without the contribution of wood. With concrete we are going to achieve this oxygenation so that the video evolves and other aromatic notes and characteristics of the variety itself emerge», she explains.

At the same time, the ovoid shape of the tank generates a constant movement during the fermentation or tank phase. And all this without the use of electricity or pumps, another of the qualities that help to enhance and round out the tannins.

This permanent movement in different directions within the concrete egg contributes to a natural batonage. Floral aromas and all the nuances of the grape emerge.

«The oval shape provides us with a permanent lees work, a constant batonage. As the bottom part is wider, the lees will slide and the kinetics of the tank will keep them in continuous movement. In this way -continues the Pazo Baión winemaker-, we will obtain those fatter notes that will also appear gradually, without having to force them manually».

It also does so at a constant temperature, identical at each point in the tank, another of the properties of this type of tank.

This fascinating journey is very perceptible in the tasting phase. «In the mouth, you will find a wine that retains all its acidity, but is also very oily, with a lot of structure and volumen», she explains.

There is little doubt about the powerful personality of wines fermented in concrete eggs. One of the most cited studies circulating in Spain today, prepared by the researcher Miguel Delso, yields conclusions that are certainly striking.

One of them states that in more than 90% of the blind tastings carried out with white wines, those wines that had been fermented in the concrete egg were fluently identified.

Andrea Obenza doesn’t hesitate to value this pairing that has emerged with this kind of tank. «The albariño variety works exceptionally well in concrete». The intuition that the winery’s winemaking team had at the time has been confirmed over time.

And it has surely been one of the assets that have made Pazo Baión’s albariños a resounding success among both specialized critics and the general public.

So much so that the winemaker ventures to predict that in the future the family is very likely to grow.

In short, that the concrete egg that today arouses so much curiosity among our visitors will have a little brother sooner rather than later.

We will be attentive.

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