In Navarra, we produce dry white wines, primarily Chardonnay and Viura. After the grapes are brought to the winery, they are taken to the stemmer-crusher, in order to remove the stems (in whole or in part) and break the berries slightly. If the grapes are of high quality and are very healthy, the juice can be allowed to macerate for a few hours with the skins, for maximum extraction of flavor, before pressing. Then the mixture enters the press and is collected. Runoff or “free-run” wine, the high-quality wine collected prior to actually pressing, is collected first, and then the press wine, in which the increase in pressure results in coarser musts of lower quality.
Sulfur is added afterward to protect the pressed wine from oxidation and prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms before racking the wine. Racking – transferring the wine from one container to another – removes the lees, the heavy sediment left over from pressing, consisting of dead yeast cells, pulp, pips, seeds, and skins. The racking can be static (the juice is left in a tank for 24 hours and the sediment, or impurities, fall to the bottom by gravity) or by a centrifuge machine (used in wineries that produce large volumes of wine).
This way we obtain a clean must, which in many cases is fermented by adding a quality yeast strain (of industrial origin). The alcoholic fermentation can take place in.
Malolactic fermentation usually occurs following the alcohol fermentation and is the process through which malic acid (stronger and “green” in character) is transformed into lactic acid (soft and smooth). It is rarely sought for wines that are fermented in tanks, because white wines support fresh acidity quite well. But if the acidity is too high, there are times when it takes place, partly or wholly, primarily during barrel aging. Once the malolactic fermentation and aging (if desired) are completed, the wine is clarified and stabilized before bottling. Because great white wines evolve well in the bottle, many wineries in Navarra allow them to mature in bottles before releasing them for consumption.