Once the harvest is completed, the grapes have to be treated carefully. The measure of a wine maker is knowing how to get the most out of what nature has given him. The first job once the grapes are picked, is to get rid of all the leaves and foreign particles in order to have only the grapes in the vats. The grapes are put in the vats with the juice for a period of maceration. It is in fact the skin which gives the wine its colour, its tannins and other subtleties.
The white grapes are placed directly in a press to separate the juice.
This juice, called the must, is then chilled to around 7°C before being pumped into the vats.
This process is called cold settling. It allows for the production of a refined and clean juice necessary for a high quality white wine.
|To make rosé, the red grapes are placed in the vat but the must is taken out after only a few hours of maceration. This is called a ‘bleeding’.|
Once in the vat the must will naturally turn into wine due to the yeast. It takes only a few days for the micro-organisms to absorb the sugar and produce alcohol.
The fermenting vats are checked every day to verify the level of fermentation and the temperature which must be controlled because the yeast produces a lot of heat.
|Once the fermentation is completed, the fermented must is taken out. This is called the leakage.|
It is placed in another vat where the fermentation process is completed. The solids and pips which are left are called the marc and are treated and kept. The wine maker must take great care when going down to the cellar to inspect the vats because the yeast can produce a deadly gas. The candle test is still used to check that there is enough oxygen to breath. Now the process of devatting can begin. The grapes will have produced a press-wine and a marc which are sold to distilleries to extract the alcohol.
For between 6 and 12 months the wine is matured in vats or, for a high quality wine, oak barrels. In the winter it is than clarified and filtered and is now ready for bottling.
At the Domaine Saint-Pierre wine estate we have undertaken this process ourselves for several years. We take particular care in choosing the packaging, labels and especially the corks.