White Fermenting in Tank and Barrel

While we prepare for harvesting the majority of the red, we’re busy in the chai with vinifying the white wine. Now that all the grapes have been pressed and the juice has settled, we’ve kicked off the fermentation. The old semillon from Les Trois Hectares has gone into French oak barrels, whereas most of the sauvignon blanc is fermenting in a chilled stainless steel tank. We’ve also got some sauvignon blanc in barrels too.

This row of barrels may give you the impression that we want the wine to taste of oak. Far from it. In the same way that great white Burgundy doesn’t taste of oak, we’re aiming for a rounded, complex wine. Bizarrely, if I want a white wine to taste oaky (other than by using oak chips or cheaper American oak barrels), I’d ferment the wine in stainless steel and then transfer it to oak for ageing. A white wine made this way will taste much oakier than a wine that started life in the oak barrel. I learnt that to my cost a few years ago – the overly-oaky stuff never made it into a Bauduc wine.