Carbonic maceration describes a red winemaking whole bunch or whole berry fermentation technique in which the first phase of fermentation is conducted in a completely anaerobic atmosphere, which transforms a small amount of malic acid and sugar in grapes to ethanol, along with traces of many flavourful aromatic compounds, without the intervention of yeasts.
For a full carbonic maceration, intact whole bunches/berries of grapes are placed in a closed fermentation vessel and an anaerobic atmosphere is created, generally obtained by using carbon dioxide to exclude oxygen. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by the grape berries, filling the berry to around 50% of its volume. This causes grapes to change from aerobic respiration to fermentative anaerobic metabolism. Once the alcohol reaches 2%, the
berries burst, releasing their juice naturally. Intracellular fermentation takes place within the intact berry. Carbonic maceration character and structure occur best if grapes are kept at relatively high temperatures. To complete fermentation, the fruit is destemmed, crushed, and fermented with yeast under normal winemaking conditions, either with the skins or off the skins after pressing.
“Maceration carbonique” was invented in the Beaujolais region of France. In the mid-to-late 20th century, Beaujolais’s reputation was elevated thanks to carbonic macerated wines; an early-drinking wines released just weeks after fermentation is complete. Carbonic maceration is commonly applied to Gamay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz/Syrah. Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Carignan could also benefit from this technique.
These days, you can find carbonic macerated reds of all kinds, made from grapes including Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Carmenere, and Zinfandel. Thanks to this unique winemaking technique, these reds are generally lighter in color, with little acidity and few tannins, marked by their highly fruity aromatics.
Carbonic macerated white wines are less common — but that’s slowly changing. As warmer temperatures, and variable harvest conditions continue to challenge winemakers across the world, some are applying this technique to white grapes, yielding a new, exciting category of aromatic wines.
Carbonic maceration is used by Midalidare for winemaking of:
Midalidare Carbonic Maceration Petit Verdot
Resources: Awri.com.au, Wineenthusiast.com, Wine-searcher.com, Foodandwine.com