- Over one million litres (>264 000 US gal) of red and white wines were produced with no added sulphites. The wines endured controlled bulk storage conditions for up to one year, being gradually drawn down and dispatched on order over time. During the time of the project, supply chains were uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Wines were in transit by a combination of road, rail, and sea freight for up to five weeks in bulk 26 000 L (6 870 US gal) containers. Spanish daytime summer temperatures exceed 30 °C (86 °F), but Wine Shield helped the producer to protect the wines from sensory degradation during long journeys. Wines were shielded from oxidation during storage and transportation and Wine Shield helped the producer to meet a client’s requirement for allergen-free wines without added sulphites.
- Wine Shield was successfully combined with good cellar practices like temperature control and nitrogen blankets. No other antioxidants were added to the wine.
- The wines successfully reached a satisfied customer each time and the winemaker endorses the use of an oak extract like Wine Shield as a wine antioxidant. Wine Shield is easy to use and can be beneficial to all winemakers.
A global upsurge in low sulphite winemaking
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) has a long and proven history as an antimicrobial- and antioxidant preservative in juice, wine, and beyond. Unsurprisingly, some still consider it indispensable to the making of good quality wine. A marked consumer push toward organic or minimal intervention wines, however, has driven considerable growth in the low-sulphite wine categories. To align with this evolution of global trends, producers are adapting their brand’s range to include more organic, sustainable, or allergen-free options. Consequently, many winemakers have been innovating with alternative wine antioxidants like Wine Shield. We recently caught up with one such winemaker, Antonio Florencio Nieto of Cooperativa Manjavacas (Spain), who shared his impressions of Wine Shield with us.
A Spanish cellar to be reckoned with
Antonio has been using Wine Shield as an antioxidant in some red and white no-sulphites-added (NSA) wines since 2020. With hundreds of growers working over 6 000 Ha of vines, Zagarrón Wines and Wineries in the heart of La Mancha is wholeheartedly committed to the environment. An ongoing NSA project not only reflects its eco-centric outlook, but also a commitment to delivering quality wines tailored to client needs. The cellar proudly boasts 103 tanks ranging from 5 000 to 1 100 000 L in size. From their annual production of 500 000 hL of wine, an approximate 85 % is typically committed to global exports. This means Antonio and his team at Manjavacas are especially aware of the fine interplay between oxidative stressors and wine quality during transportation. Despite long journeys from Spain to Japan, China, the USA, and other countries, loyal customers abroad always appreciate these wines from La Mancha for their world-class quality.
COVID-19, a supply chain disaster, amplifies risk of wine-in-transit oxidation
Global supply chains are still not fully recovered from the disruptions of the pandemic. Three years ago, export logistics were much more uncertain with national lockdowns causing frequent delays. During this time, Antonio started using Wine Shield in all his NSA wines being produced for a client in Hampshire, England. These wines, an annual total in excess of 1 000 000 L, are kept in bulk storage for up to 12 months before being dispatched on order in 26 000 L tankers. Nearly forty 26 000 L shipments could potentially leave the winery before the NSA wine stocks are depleted! At the fully equipped winery, temperature control and nitrogen blankets protect the wines from oxidation during bulk storage. As the wines are drawn down throughout the year, Antonio relies on Wine Shield for added peace of mind. Despite good cellar practices, the wine naturally remains vulnerable to some degree of oxidation during transit. With the uncertainty COVID-19 has unleashed on supply chain movements came a new challenge for wine producers: can their wines outlast likely, but unforeseen shipping delays in prime condition?
“We know that wines with no added sulphites or low sulphur levels need all the protection they can get,’ Antonio disclosed. Without added sulphites, oxidation of phenolic compounds could severely impede wine marketability.Wine oxidation, encouraged by thermal extremes during transit, can lay waste to wine taste, aroma, and colour. If their more expensive wine disappoints, the NSA wine producer arguably faces an even greater loss. Luckily, natural products like Wine Shield are available to ‘shield’ wines from degradation during storage and transport.
“We know that wines with no added sulphites or low sulphur levels need all the protection they can get.’
The NSA winemaking challenge
Compared with sulphured wines, NSA wines demand more active engagement from an attentive winemaker. In conventional wines, SO2 can offer absolution during harvest, fermentation, racking, and bottling. A more organic winemaking process is less forgiving. Therefore, despite containing fewer additives, most NSA wines are more involved (and more expensive) to produce than their sulphured counterpart. Being more susceptible to microbial spoilage and chemical changes, winemakers can assign great importance to the monitoring of NSA wine quality. Without added sulphites, this wine production may deter vintners seeking to keep risk to a minimum.
Wines without added antioxidants are naturally more responsive to environmental factors. Herein lies some of the beauty of NSA wines, because they are crafted with consideration for their natural ageing process. A small degree of (controlled) wine oxidation is known to contribute to sensory quality. Oxidation holds a great risk, however, when allowed to escalate and severely change wine’s colour and sensory properties. To counteract this, Antonio and his team at Manjavacas combine temperature control and nitrogen blankets at the winery. “We need the wines to keep their flavour and colour while we keep them in storage, but also during their long journey.” With this in mind, Antonio continues to reveal his insights on the value of oak extracts like Wine Shield: “the role of oak as a wine antioxidant is obvious and well-recognised by winemakers.”
Wine Shield supports good winemaking practices
Recognising that Wine Shield can support good winemaking practices, Antonio has been enjoying the ease of useWine Shield offers to protect wines during storage. Wine Shield has also been an invaluable tool during the wine’s sometimes lengthy journey from the winery to the client.
“Wine Shield is easy to use and is supplied in a liquid form, and does not have any side effects when used in the wines. There are no precipitation or filtration issues occurring as the tannins are totally absorbed into the wines instantly, making Wine Shield a perfect tannin for me to use in this project.”
The team in La Mancha added Wine Shield only at the times of racking, filtration, and into the tanker just prior to filling. The wines were generally shipped in brimful containers with a cumulative 1.5 – 2 mL of Wine Shield per litre of wine. This seemed to work well for the winery, because the wines were kept fresh, maintaining good flavour and colour until they reached a satisfied client.
A slow journey
Perhaps one should consider the distance from La Mancha, Spain, to Hampshire, England: less than 1 700 km for commuters via the shortest route. For the wine in question, however, the journey wasn’t quite so simple. After up to a year in bulk storage, the NSA wines were still faced with the rigmarole of a somewhat uncertain supply chain. To exacerbate this challenge, the supplier had seasonal climates to contend with. Supplying wine to a client who would surely expect the same quality product to be delivered throughout the year, hot Spanish summers and interrupted journeys were not ideal conditions.
“From La Mancha to Hampshire, the wine is in transit for over three weeks by a combination of road, rail, and sea freight,” Antonio recounts. “The wines usually spend about three weeks in transit, but there have been those nerve-wracking times where they only reached our client four or five weeks after leaving the winery.” To delay oxidation, great care is pertinent during the transportation of any wine; especially those without added sulphites. Regardless, Antonio always delivers his NSA wines to his client in prime condition – and despite cold winters and extremely hot summers. The wines with Wine Shield added are kept fresh, having their flavour and colour protected during transit. Antonio reports that his customer is satisfied with the flavour and colour of the Wine Shield-treated NSA wines they receive from Manjavacas. “Wine Shield oak extract has helped me to achieve a stable and quality result in all the wines I used it in, whether the wine is red or white generic or single varietal wines.”
“We are all happy with the stability and quality of the wines being delivered to meet the buyer’s needs.”
Who will benefit from Wine Shield?
We asked Antonio this simple question: who will benefit most from using Wine Shield? Unsurprisingly, his answer was a short and sweet ‘everyone’. A successful NSA wine is an authentic testimony to a winemaker’s skills as they present a great-tasting, sensory product. For the wine to be enjoyed at its best, it may benefit from some extra protection. Wine Shield’s oak-derived antioxidants provide a natural way to intervene with autooxidation processes and keep wines fresh. It can be used with sulphured wines, but its true value is realised when NSA wines undertake long journeys and reach satisfied clients despite their vulnerability to degradation. What’s more, Wine Shield preserves the wine’s own flavour and colour without contributing novel nuances. It truly keeps the wine at its best for longer.
A heightened risk of oxidative degradation should not hinder the delivery of great wine to the end user. Wine Shield has a proven history of protecting wine during storage and transport. In uncertain times, when working with a delicateproduct, Wine Shield might just be the solution your cellar needs.
We extend thanks to Antonio Florencio Nieto, Technical Director of Cooperativa Manjavacas, for graciously agreeing to discuss his experience with Wine Shield with us and for allowing us to share it with others.