The egg or the chicken? Which one could have happened first… All we know is that it wasn't made of concrete. That is a purely human invention used for winemaking. Does it intrigue you? We explain everything in this article!
The role of winemaking tanks
The grape does not become wine overnight, for that, you need the touch of the winemaker. If you are interested in organic viticulture, we suggest you read this article.
After the harvest , the grapes go to destemming (separation of berries and the bunch) then to crushing (the berries are crushed to release the juice) . The winegrowers then place this juice in the vats to carry out the winemaking process ( maceration, fermentation, ageing ) and transform it into good wine.
Concrete is a fairly modern material, emblematic of the industrial revolution and widely used in construction. Concrete tanks were therefore born recently, in the 1950s, when this new container attracted covetousness. Quickly, the concrete vats were stolen from the limelight by the stainless steel vats which, during the 70s, made the happiness of a good number of winegrowers . The battle of the vats was born!
These two types of vats are above all the direct competitors of the wooden barrels which were previously widely used by winegrowers . Although aging in barrels is very popular in the world of wine and recognized for its qualities of aroma transfer , wooden barrels are very demanding in terms of work. The capacity of wooden barrels is lower and therefore requires more filling and more storage space . Wood is also a living material, which allows air to pass through, leading to more oxidation and above all allowing a little wine to escape. Fortunately, the winegrowers are aware of this, otherwise they would suspect the team of tasting wine in secret by discovering the barrels that are less full...
Unless you want to produce a wine for laying down, with complex tertiary aromas and a worked tannic structure , wooden barrels are not the most practical and economical way to vinify wine . The solution of concrete and stainless steel is therefore timely!
The interest of egg-shaped concrete wine vats
If there's one thing you can't miss on an Easter egg hunt , it 's the ovoid concrete wine tank . Behind this wacky name hides a huge concrete tank in the shape of an egg , ready to accommodate liters and liters of wine. These tanks can reach up to 2.30 meters in height, the equivalent of the largest bottle in the world, and contain up to 18 hectolitres, or approximately 10 baths. Of course, we would like to dive into it, but these vats are above all there to serve the winegrower when he vinifies his wine .
These large concrete eggs are, in addition to being designer, there to facilitate the work of the winegrower . As they have no corners, the temperature is more stable and the ovoid shape also allows a permanent movement of the lees , therefore less intervention on the part of the winemaker. This form promotes the action of yeasts and limits the need for sulfur intake . Our good wine can therefore mature quietly and the winemaker only has to brood it.
As we often say, whoever steals an egg steals an ox! Well we guarantee you that this egg is much more difficult to dislodge than an ox.
The composition of ovoid concrete wine tanks
We know the expression “ a healthy mind in a healthy body ”, now imagine a healthy wine in a healthy container, what do you think? We think that's pretty cool, and that's good because according to our sources , ovoid wine vats are made only from natural materials ! A little washed Loire sand , gravel , spring water , cement , and that's it. A touch of tartaric acid is then used to treat the tank to prevent corrosion without using chemicals . Easier said than done, we therefore tip our hat to the craftsmen who manufacture these iconic tanks without damaging nature .
Yes craftsmen because these tanks are made in a traditional way, we let you appreciate this work in video.
At Emmanuel, our Oé winemaker who produces our prestigious Châteauneuf-du-Pape , visiting the cellar is a special moment, especially when you visit his cellar .
Walking between wooden barrels , concrete vats and stainless steel vats is magical! The photo shows it.
Favorite wines from egg-shaped concrete vats
It is well known that the grape varieties have their favorite terroirs , because the climate and the composition of the soil are favorable to them. What is less known is that the grape varieties also have their favorite vats. Burgundy wines and ovoid concrete vats are friends as pigs! These egg-shaped tanks are ideal for the production of sweet wines and unctuous wines produced from chardonnay .
Other vineyards also appreciate these vats which retain all the flavors of the fruity grape varieties , in particular for the production of very gourmet and very fresh white wines . Riesling and Chenin therefore naturally express their full potential when they are vinified in these vats.
In Bordeaux , they are also used a lot for the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties , which love to bathe in these ovoid vats to let their beautiful aromatic palette speak . With these vats, the wines obtained are fresher and fruitier because the primary and secondary aromas are not overwhelmed by the tertiary aromas that appear when the winemaker uses wooden barrels .