- Once the grapes are picked, they must be pressed as quickly as possible. Oxidization is the enemy!
- The grapes are lightly crushed, just before going into the press.
- The pneumatic presses have an internal membrane that swells up using compressed air to gently squeeze the juice from the grapes.
- Pressing yields in a must that, when fermented, becomes wine.
After pressing, the juice is cloudy. In the vat, the heaviest particles settle at the bottom. They are known in French as bourbes. The clear juice is drawn off and placed in vats or barrels and the bourbes are left behind. This is a critical stage in the production of white wines. Then the first fermentation occurs, known as alcoholic fermentation, when the sugar is turned into alcohol.
Fermentation - Vinification
Fermentation can take place either in vats or in the barrel. The process has two stages:
- Alcoholic fermentation: The first fermentation is triggered by yeasts and starts turning the natural sugar in the juice into alcohol. At the same time, carbon monoxide is released. The aromas begin to emerge.
- Malolactic fermentation: This is the second fermentation which transforms the malic acid into lactic acid and which is carried out by micro-organisms called lactic bacteria. This reduces the natural acidity of the wine.
The ageing process is characterized by three main actions:
- Topping up: During the ageing process, some of the wine evaporates and soaks into the wood. This is known as the angels’ share. To avoid any oxidization, the barrels are topped up with some of the same wine. This operation, called ouillage in French, is carried out on a weekly basis.
- Stirring: Traditionally, wines in the barrel are stirred to agitate the lees in the wine using a dodine. This process, called bâtonnage in French, serves to “nourish”, balance and enrich the wine. The frequency with which the wine is stirred depends on the character of the vintage.
- Racking off: The wine is transferred into another container in a process known in French as soutirage, leaving the lees behind.
La Cuvée Ronde: The “round vat” is a Burgundian tradition. It involves blending wines from different barrels or vats but from the same appellation in order to obtain a complementarity depending on the vintage. The aim is to end up with a balanced wine. The tasting team validates each blend.
After blending and leaving the blends to mingle for three months, it’s time for fining or collage. This stage removes any undesired particles floating in the wine and clarifies it. To fine the wine, we use casein, a milk protein that encourages flocculation. Just a few grams per hectoliter of wine are required. Alternatively, we sometimes use a form of bentonite – a kind of food-grade clay – that makes the tiniest particles settle on the bottom of the container.
Fining is often used for white wines, and very rarely in the case of reds.
First, the wines are lightly filtered to make them clear and brilliant. Then bottling takes place in five stages:
- Rinsing: All the bottles are rinsed with filtered water and then drained before filling.
- Filling: Also known as la mise, when the wine is put into bottles or magnums.
- Corking: The bottles are sealed with natural or synthetic corks.
- Capsuling: The bottles are topped with a light aluminum capsule
- Labeling: Lastly, the bottles are labeled with a front and rear label as well as a collerette oreck label. The wine must now wait a while before being sold because the bottling process disturbsit and it needs time to settle.