What does it mean a wine is Triple A?

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Triple A

This website is dedicated to Orange wines, to wines made in amphora and also to natural wines. I do not consider myself a fundamentalist of these styles. There are wine enthusiasts who when they read the words Reserva or Gran Reserva in a label they appreciate an instant guarantee of quality. The same happens to me when I see a seal stating the wine comes from Organic Farming, or a Demeter or Triple A certification. Nothing assures me, though, that what is inside the bottle will suit me, but any of those three stamps is a good starting point. It is true that almost all the wines I have tasted with these seals have taken me away, made me really enjoy a glass. These wines do not leave me indifferent. Some fascinate me, some others not so much, some are wines I would not buy again, but above all I like the differential touch they show. What I like about them is that at least they reflect the passion of those who make them, with all that it implies: respect for the land, respect for the fruit, a different way of elaboration, etc. As with traditional winemaking, that one involving harvest, pressing, fermentation, stainless steel and aging or not in wood, natural, organic, biodynamic and orange wines can also offer us many things.

Nowadays there is a stream of thought, so to say, about these wines that criticizes them for being just a fashion, for being wines with many flaws, for being wines that one day are good and another day are bad. They are cloudy wines and full of sediments and they smell of what some call “mice cage”, “mousiness” or “dog breath”. As in everything in life, the balance is in the middle point. Not all natural winemakers elaborate extreme wines. In fact, there are organic wines that many people would never identify them as not their usual style of wine. We cannot affirm that the extremist winemaker is the one making 10,000 bottles a year hidden in a small garage and the winemaker producing 100,000 bottles a year cannot be an organic winemaker. As wine aficionados, the best thing we can do is tasting everything and then making our mental schemes, not before you even taste them.

WineWorld offers many styles, enough so that everyone can find the one more adapted to them. There are many styles that I like but there are also many styles that I do not like. There are many Rioja or Ribera de Duero wines I love and I never get tired of enjoying them, yet I will not leave aside other wines that fascinate me just because I love those I mentioned. There are many fine, elegant and well-structured Orange wines that I love, and I wouldn’t renounce to a good Rioja and drink only Orange wines. I like my wines to grab me, surprise me, convey me something and above all I like tasting new things.

Only in Spain there are over 70 DOs. Bordeaux has over 60, Burgundy has over 100 and in Italy there are more than 1,000 grape varieties. Over 1,000!! There is so much to taste out there. Sometimes I find it hard to understand those who are not interested in tasting something new and who are always faithful to the same label, year in and year out, people who like wines always tasting the same. Despite not sharing their vision, there is nothing to criticize because as I said at the beginning, we all are entitled to choose what we like. I am also aware that there are wine styles, such as Port, Champagne or Jerez among others, in which many winemakers seek the homogenization of their wines no matter the vintage because that is their quality seal. There are many wineries with loyal customers who always want to find the same, knowing that they will not be disappointed with their favorite wine.

In the beginning I mentioned certifying institutions of natural wines. One of them is Tripe A. A number of producers of this style of wine created in Italy an association designed to safeguard their winemaking interests. They called this association Triple A. This partnership encompasses today wineries in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, France, Georgia and Greece, as well as Italy.

Triple A is more a movement that an association and its name refer to the three As representing his philosophy: Agriculture, Artisans and Artists. This movement originated as opposition to the increasing standardization of wine elaboration that can be seen today in WineWorld. Increasingly, techniques used in the vineyard and in the cellar, such as synthetic products and active dry yeasts, tend to eliminate the expression of the footprint and character of the vineyard in addition to the personality of the winegrower.

“A” as in Agriculture referring to the proper relationship between the individual and the vineyard, to get healthy and mature grapes with a natural agronomic intervention, without pesticides, chemicals or added treatments external to wine grapes.

“A” as in Artisans referring to the ability to act on a viticultural and enological process that does not modify the structure of the grape and wine.

“A” as in Artists referring to the artistic sensibility of winemakers upon their own work and ideas, which gives life to a wine reflecting the terroir where it comes from.

In 2003 Luca Gargano created the manifesto representing this group. A Triple A wine comes from as little interventionist winemaking as possible. A manual preparation of the future vine should be made by massal selection, without use of chemical substances. The life cycle of the grape must be respected to obtain its physiological maturation so it becomes completely healthy. Sulfites can be used in minimum quantities only at the time of bottling. Yeasts have to be indigenous and during fermentation process, wine levels such as acidity or sugar cannot be corrected. Nor will the wine be clarified or filtered before bottling it.

We may think that these producers work on their wines hidden in a dark garage, away from prying eyes, but if we pause a bit and look at who are the members of this movement we will see that far from this prejudice there are big and important producers in the mentioned countries. Just to mention few of them, in Italy we have Arianna Occhipinti in Sicily, Denis Muntanar in Friuli, La Stoppa in Emilia-Romagna, Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo and Carlo Viglione in Barolo. In Slovenia we have Cotar  and MoviaPierre Overnoy (Jura), Château Le Puy (Bordeaux) and Huet  (Loire) are some of the wineries in France. Giorgio Clai in Croatia, Chateau Musar in Lebanon, Our WineZurab Topuridze  and Iago Birarishvili in Georgia, Immich-Batterieberg in Germany, Weninger and Wimmer-Czemy in Austria and Barranco Oscuro and Esencia Rural in Spain.

This is just one of the many movements existing today. We also have many other producers who have adopted, or are in the process of doing so, these processing techniques. Josko Gravner, Il Carpino and Damijan Podversic in Italy, Andreas Tscheppe, Sepp Muster or Roland Tauss in Austria, Daterra Viticultores, Rafa Barnabé, MicroBio Wines, Vinos Ámbiz, Venus La Universal in Spain, Château Renard in Jura or Milan Nestarec in the Czech Republic, just to name a few.

Following the prevailing biodynamic rules in Triple A, organic or ecological agriculture does not guarantee that wine will be good. Stuff like using new barrels or in its sixth year of use, manual harvesting, filtering and clarification or not, longer or smaller bottles, etc., will never guarantee we will like the wine we are going to buy. Everything has a marked influence in the final product, of course, as they are parts of a whole. Following a few steps one year can make a wine good and the same steps the next year may turn wine into a not so good product. In WineWorld nothing is a guarantee of success because there are countless things that influence the final result. There are many ways of elaboration, some are more according to our taste than others are but that does not mean any of them is more or less correct.

In the end, it all comes down to being able to enjoy the wine we have in our glass.

Everything else is just fireworks.