Fermentation of white wine!
A few years ago, when a customer asked me for the first time whether we could remove the lid from the 500-liter barrel he had ordered, I – new to the barrel business and inexperienced as I was – was a bit taken aback… What did the man want with such an expensive rain barrel? Where we can offer beautiful and cheaper ones from used barrels.
He quickly enlightened me: the barrel should not serve as a rain collector, but for the fermentation of his white wine. The specialty: after fermentation, the bottom of the barrel was reinstalled and the barrel was used quite regularly to store the previously fermented white wine.
Stainless steel tank - wooden barrel
Today, after being around for about 9 years longer than I was for that first request of this type, I am of course smarter and recognize the impetus or idea that the customer had back then. What I also know is that he is not the only one using this process.
The fermentation of white wine grapes is classically more familiar in stainless steel tanks. Here, the temperatures and fermentation processes can be controlled quite precisely using the latest technology. But remember: wine has been around much longer than stainless steel. And how did people ferment before the invention of stainless steel tanks? With wooden barrels! In contrast to the past, however, barriques and tonneaux are also very popular here today.
Our French partner cooperage, Tonnellerie Tremeaux, takes up old traditions with its idea of L’Ouvrée® barrels and combines them with new expertise from viticulture and vinification.
But what does L’Ouvrée mean? The principle is as simple as it is ingenious: with this option -a door in the barrel- you can ferment your white wine in the barrel without having to remove the barrel lid as before! L’Ouvrée® gives more finesse to the wine and emphasizes mainly, thanks to the low extraction influence, the fruit and elegance.
(Picture: Ludovic Tremeaux)
In French Burgundy (where Tonnellerie Tremeaux is also located) and Bordeaux, it is and has been common for a very long time to ferment wines in relatively small barrels.
This process has found more and more application outside France in recent years.
By fermenting in wooden barrels, the higher fermentation temperature (compared to stainless steel tanks) creates very unique aromas such as tea, tobacco, paprika, caramel and the wine gets a very special flavor.