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What does it mean for a wine to be complex?

Francisca JaraFrancisca Jara

Francisca Jara

Complex aromas and flavours are desirable characteristics in many wines. But what is this about and how to differentiate them? We’ll tell you now.

Surely you have already heard of that term that refers to wines as “complex” and that, without going any further, is a quality present in several Marques de Casa Concha wines. Many professionals use this term to describe wines with robust flavours and textures, such as Marques de Casa Concha Malbec or Marques de Casa Concha Syrah. But what does a complex wine really taste like? Is it perhaps an indicator of better or worse quality?

Considering that wine vocabulary may already sound a bit distant or complicated, it is important to clarify concepts that are important, such as “complexity.” In fact, in wine courses conducted by the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust), complexity is one of the four attributes identified to assess wine’s quality. So, let’s start from the basis that this is an attribute and that it is synonymous with quality.

Let’s get to the point. How do we know if a wine is complex? First, swirling the glass and perceiving its aromas. If you notice that the wine emanates aromas of fresh fruits, a wide variety of them, that means that the wine offers a significant number of primary aromas. Then, if you notice that there are also aromas that remind you of spices such as vanilla, cloves, or perhaps coffee, chocolate or butter… it means that you are dealing with secondary aromas. These could be classified as a second layer of aromas. Can there be more? Of course. If after a few seconds you perceive that there are also aromas of dried fruits such as hazelnuts, figs, cooked plums, leather, tobacco or wet leaves, to name a few, it means that you are in the presence of tertiary aromas. And when a wine has various layers of aromas that are revealed little by little, and that never stop surprising, it means that we are dealing with a specimen with aromatic complexity. This is something that generally develops over time.

And what about the flavours? This continues. After swirling the glass to appreciate its aromas, you should taste it and check if this aromas continues in the palate. To determine if the wine is complex in the palate, the idea is that the aromas are similar to the flavours. Although there are cases in which the nose is more complex than the palate, or vice versa. Another indicator is that the flavour of a complex wine can evolve both in the glass and in the bottle, in a matter of minutes or hours.

These characteristics are desirable in many wines because, making an analogy, it could be said that they offer a kind of symphony to the experience, where various aromas and flavours appear and provoke sensations in the consumer. However, it is important to know that complexity can come solely from primary aromas and flavours, or from the combination of them with secondary and tertiary characteristics. But the lack of variety of flavours is not always negative. Not all premium wines are complex. There are cases in which the presence of very strong aromas given by the oak barrels can overshadow the fruit expression of a wine, which is why purity and definition are what make a wine great.

In the case of Marques de Casa Concha Malbec, it is a fresh, complex and intense wine, which reveals itself with its notes of black cherry, blackberry, violet and sweet spices. It is also vibrant, with character and personality. While Marques de Casa Concha Syrah shows very concentrated aromas of cherry and blueberry, and a complexity in the mouth with complex flavours of cherry, blueberry and liquorice. Which one would you like to try first?




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