Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amphora-Fermented Wines

Wines & Vines has a fascinating article concerning a California winery, Del Dotto Vineyards, that has started to use terra cotta-lined amphorae to ferment some of their wines. This is a practice that stems back to the ancient days of winemaking. But, there may only be one other wine maker in the world that uses such clay vessels, Friuli's Josko Gravner.

The first release, possibly in September, will be a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon which will also be bottled in clay magnums. It should retail for around $100.

Supposedly wines fermented in this manner have an earthier taste, something very different from what many are used to in their wines.

This certainly sounds very interesting and I am curious how the wines would taste. It reminds me somewhat of Sean Thackrey who uses many medieval winemaking methods at his own winery. And I very much enjoy his wines.

But, Del Dotto Vineyards, at least based on this article, seems a bit more concerned with making money. He talks about how this is a great marketing opportunity. I would rather see a man passionate about winemaking, who is experimenting, rather than someone simply seeking a new gimmick.

Maybe this will lead to other wineries trying clay vessel fermentation. I will have to look more into the wines of Josko Gravner.


Dr. Debs said...

Great story. I was wondering who'd be the first to post on it!

Anonymous said...

Actually here in Spain it's not that uncommon. IN fact there is a whole school of thought on it there, where some people are rejecting stainless steel, for concrete and terracotta. Also in Portugal I did this interesting Bodega Profile last year about a bodega that employs them!

Richard Auffrey said...

Wow...thanks Ryan! That is certainly news to me. Do you know any of the specific Spanish wineries that do that? Have you had any of their wines? I will check out your review of the Portguese winery too.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I've seen a few, and I know a few bottles that mention it, but I would need to check it out first. In Alicante, and in the Priorat, people have been moving back to Cement(similar reasons) in small groups. Rene Barbier is a big fan of Cement of Stainless...In LaMancha, you will see these containers everywehere, and winemakers interested in using them again. Though from the interview I did in Portugual, I learned that they are a pain in the neck to clean and ferment in.