At Château le Boscq, Saint-Estèphe, grapes from only a few very specific vineyard parcels are vinified in oak barriques.
Step inside the winery for a first-hand insight into Dourthe’s winemaking expertise.
What is barrel fermentation?
Fermenting in barrel is conducting the entire vinification process, alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, in traditional oak barrels. Here at Chateau le Boscq we use 225-litre oak barriques. To retain the aromas and typical character of each vineyard parcel, the same barrique is used at every stage of the vinification and ageing process.
This type of vinification allows the oak to be completely integrated in the wine, attaining the perfect balance of tannins and anthocyanins. The constant exchange between the must and the skins given the small volumes allows gentle diffusion and an excellent composition of phenolic compounds; the resulting wines are concentrated with a silky texture and intense colours.
Barrel fermentation is kinder to the fruit, and allows very small parcels to be vinified separately. Every lot expresses the character of the selected zones, providing us with greater knowledge of the vineyard blocks so that we can adapt our work in the vines accordingly in order to tease out the very essence of Chateau Le Boscq’s extraordinary terroir.
How do we do this?
The grapes are hand-picked at optimum ripeness, and gently de-stemmed before rigorous sorting using an optical sorting machine.
The whole berries are then transferred directly to new headless 225-litre barriques. Transfer to barrel is carried out entirely by hand to avoid damaging the fruit during the process.
The berries are then lightly pressed as they enter the barrel to aid gentle extraction. Once the barrel is three-quarters full, the head is replaced and the barrel laid on its side.
After spending the first day at ambient temperature, the barrels are gradually introduced to the air-conditioned winery to commence the very slow fermentation process.
Phenolic compounds are extracted by regularly rotating the barriques. This operation replaces regularly plunging or pumping over the cap, which is a technique usually used in tank. Each barrique is tasted twice a day in order to manage the frequency of the rotations.
After racking, the wine is transferred back to the same oak barrique to complete its secondary malolactic fermentation; the wine is then racked a second time and returned to the same barrique for ageing.