Wine Word of the Week: Solera

By Kori ~ June 21st, 2011.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is solera.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Solera is a system of fractional blending used most commonly in Jerez for maintaining the consistency of a style of sherry, which takes its name from those barrels closest to the suelo, or floor, from which the final blend was customarily drawn. The system was created for commercial reasons in the second half of the 19th century. Previously, sherry was vintage-dated just like claret.

The system is designed to smooth out the differences between vintage years and is effectively a more subtle, and very much more labour-intensive, version of the blending of inexpensive table wines between one vintage and another, although the solera system concerns barrel-aged liquids and is made up of several different scales. ….

If a product is labeled ‘Solera 1880’, for example, it should come from a solera established in 1880.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Solera is the fractional blending system used to make sherry, which maintains a house style and consistency of product. During the aging process, some older wine is withdrawn and replaced with the same wine from a younger vintage so the younger wine is assimilated into the old and picks up characteristics of the older wine.

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