Let the juice loose…

I spent some more time this week in the vineyards and the wine cellar of Domaine La Madura – and learnt some more about wine!  Cyril Bourgne’s winery is not large but very clean and tidy as you can see from the pictures!

The first time I went to watch some of the work which goes into the vinification process.  Cyril was preparing to mix some of wine in fermentation, drawing must off at the bottom of the tank and pumping it over the “crust” at the top of the tank.  A large basin was set up, a spout attached to the outlet of the tank, a stainless steel filter basket hooked onto that and then the juices started to flow.

A pump had been set up to pump the juice from the basin at ground floor level to the first floor, and a device with a propeller had been attached to the end of the pipe over the top of the tank.  It was great to see the propeller jump into action, spraying beautifully smelling liquid all over the floating grapes.

During the procedure Cyril measured the sugar density and temperature of the must and carefully noted the results.

Once the task was complete and all the equipment carefully rinsed with clean water (same as before starting up!) another job was waiting:  that of pushing the grape skins which had collected into a crust on the top of another tank into the juice and thereby allowing a better extraction of colour and flavours.

Hard work, pushing the stainless steel tool down and pulling it back up again, trying to get into all of the corners of the tank!  While Cyril was working away I managed to snap a quick picture of the barrels used to mature the Grand Vin”.

The following morning I passed by as some grapes came back from the vineyard.  That day the vineyard below the Col de Fontjun was being picked, and the grape variety on that particular parcel of land is called Mourvedre.

The de-stemming machine had been set up just inside the doors, and the van pulled in just far enough so that the crates could be lifted up to the hopper. 

Each crate full of grapes weighs around 40kg so it’s heavy work, even for two people.

As the grapes are slowly tipped into the hopper every bit of leaf is removed, and any bunches which aren’t up to scratch are taken out.

Inside the de-stemmer is a drum with holes and the grapes are pushed through those holes by flexible paddles.  The stems stay behind and leave the drum at the opposite end, whilst the grapes drop into a tub below the machine, from where they are pumped into the tank.

And all of this accompanied by the wonderful smells of ripe grapes!

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