Discover the technique of batonnage or stirring used during white winemaking at Château Rahoul, Graves, and Château La Garde, Pessac-Léognan.
Batonnage, an ancient technique
A traditional technique introduced to Burgundy at the beginning of the 20th century, batonnage consists of stirring the wine to circulate the lees settled at the bottom of the barrel.
Essentially made up of yeast cells left over from the fermentation process, the lees settle naturally at the bottom of the barrel once fermentation is complete.
Regular stirring promotes the release of aromatic compounds, which add to the complexity of aromas and bring richness and creamy texture to the wine. Stirring may also help reduce oxidation.
Batonnage in the Dourthe chateaux
At Château Rahoul, Graves and La Garde in Pessac-Léognan, the Sauvignon and Semillon grapes are treated with meticulous care, from harvesting by hand, pressing under nitrogen to preserve their aromas, right through to vinifying and maturing the juices in oak barrels on their fine lees.
Batonnage is also a regular practice, with two additional techniques:
At Château Rahoul the lees are stirred using a stainless steel rod known as a “canne” or “dodine”.
At Château La Garde, a more modern technique known as barrel rotation is also used and alternated with classic batonnage.
Batonnage is performed on a daily basis at the start of elevage, and less frequently over time, depending on frequent tastings and vintage conditions, until the wines reach a perfect balance of freshness, aromatic complexity and creamy richness on the palate.