The primary condition for obtaining a good-tasting grape, with a balance of sweetness, acidity (freshness) and flavour is: a minimum of 2000 hrs of sunshine, sparse watering, a soil rich in minerals and a low amount of fruit per plant! Naturally, in this equation, weather plays an important role for the character of a particular vintage, but the basic quality is primarily created by man’s knowledge and labour. Not even the most advanced mechanization and agro chemistry can replace man’s selective ability and craftsmanship regarding the quality of labour and the results obtained at the vineyard. In the context of grape cultivation this means: pruning, binding, weeding, cutting slips, formation, trimming of the greenery, soil cultivation, removal of weeds, thinning of the grape clusters and harvesting. All these tasks must be carried out at the proper time, with knowledge and good care, to reach the final aim.
Today, over 95% of the world’s wine production comes from vineyards utilizing mechanical operation methods, but the use of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) is so high that the poisons can be traced even in the wines themselves.
When the grapes start to ripen, weekly – and just before harvesting, daily – checks are made.
Abdyika’s typical harvest parameters for red wines are:
– TA ( Total acidity) 6,5 gr/kg
– pH 3,4–3,6
– T/M (Tartaric/malic acid) 5
– Glucose+fructose 25–26%
– Fully ripened tannins
These values are optimal for the production of a well-balanced fresh-tasting wine with high alcohol content (14–14,5%) and rich in (velvety) soft tannins…
After extensive flavour tests and analyses the vintner makes the decision to harvest. Then a very intensive labour begins. During the morning hours until noon all grapes (of the same variety) are picked by hand, in order to be vinified later that day.
On arrival to the wine cellar the grapes undergo an extra minute quality control and already later the same day they find themselves in the vinification tank (the fermentor). All this is done to optimize an even quality and to avoid the need for sulphur dioxide and chemical preservatives. Abdyika’s wines contain app. 15 mg sulphur dioxide per liter of wine, which should be compared to 5 to 15 times that amount in commercial wines.
For three to four weeks, depending on the sugar content, the wine is allowed to ferment in temperature-controlled vats. The fermentation is a biochemically very complex transformation of sugar into alcohol. Small deviations from the optimal temperature, lack or surplus of oxygen, nitrogen or carbon dioxide may result in the formation of several bad-tasting by-products such as heavy alcohols, acetic acids, sulphur compounds etc.
The vinification process is carefully monitored by frequent laboratory tests, but primarily by the daily taste and fragrance tests done by the vintner. For the utmost level of monitoring, our wines are fermented in small 3–7 cubic meter vats, although this means a considerable increase of labour per liter of wine.
When the fermentation process is completed the wine is matured in 225 liter oak barrels (barrique) for 10–12 months. Storing it in oak barrels is a process of quality enhancement aiming to “marry” the relative harshness of the oak’s tannic acid to the flavours of the wine. This procedure forms the “frame” and “body” of the wine, and increases its maturing potential.
Cooperage is a family business where the craft is passed on through the generations. Making wine barrels is a 2–3 year process beginning with the careful selection of oak wood still on root, felling it, sawing the trunk into board and storing it in the open for at least two years, so that the sun, rain, snow and wind will macerate the bitter tannic acid out of the wood.
The selection of a cooper is ever as careful as for the cultivation of grapes. Our cooper, Master Metodi from the village of Vrachesh makes all Abdyika’s barrels. Frequent visits to the cooperage workshop will make sure the material originates from old oak trees (at least 80–90 years), and that each board is evenly air-dried.
Roasting is the next phase in the making of barrels, the quality of which is important not only for the taste, but also for the development (metamorphosis) of the wine. The densification of the wood pores under the influence of heat lowers the oxidation rate and creates the right conditions for the wine to develop a unique fragrance and flavour bouquet. The roasting of Abdyika’s barrels is done over an open fire, all according to our own recipe created to suit the character of the Melnik grape.
Once in the barrels, regular controls are made as well as refilling and redrawing (the removal of wine from one barrel to another to separate it from the residue accumulated over time) to make it possible for the wine to age naturally, eliminating the need for filtration and additives. This is a time-consuming and labour intensive process which is only applied for the production of excellent quality wines at the very best vineyards.
After 10–12 months in oak barrels the wine is blended by the vintner into the desired character, in consultation with the vineyard’s owners. The wine is then drawn into bottles using a modern fully automated drawing line, in order to keep the inherent qualities of the wine and to prevent any type of uncontrolled oxidation.
Abdyika’s blends consist of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, blended primarily with Melnik. All our wines are suitable for maturing over several years.