Oct 3, 2013
WillaKenzie Estate tests demi-muid barrel fermenting for the 2013 Grand Reserve
Last Saturday, WillaKenzie Estate began production on the winery’s inaugural Grand Reserve Pinot Noir, a 100% hand de-stemmed, single vineyard wine that will be fermented and aged in a Demi-Muid, a 159 gallon French oak barrel. An intimate group of 24 WillaKenzie Estate Cellar Club members and WillaKenzie staff gathered to delicately remove by hand the stems from over one ton of grapes. From the sorting table, the grapes were then gently moved directly into one of three new large-format wine barrels WillaKenzie purchased from Tonnellerie Sylvain in France.
About Demi-Muid Wine Barrels Used for Barrel Fermentation
The French term for a large format barrel is Demi-Muid. The three Demi-Muid barrels purchased by WillaKenzie Estate are specially equipped for barrel fermentation. These Tonnellerie Sylvain barrels, are made of French oak from the Limousin forest and hold 159 gallons (600 liters), nearly three-times the size of a traditional barrel. The barrels have large openings at the top with stainless steel closures to allow the loading of grapes into the barrel. The barrels are mounted on special racks with four wheels, which allow the winemaker to rotate the vessel in order to mix the liquids, skins and seeds, creating the same effect as a punch-down. The entire fermentation takes place in the barrel, providing a higher contact ratio between the fermenting juice and the grape skins. The wood barrel also allows for a small exchange of oxygen from the outside, unlike stainless steel fermentation tanks. Once the grapes have completed fermentation and the wine has been drained from the barrel, the barrel can be cleaned and also used for the aging of the wine.
About WillaKenzie Estate and Technology
Since our first vintage in 1995, WillaKenzie Estate has been testing winemaking practices to improve the flavor, structure, and longevity of their Old-World French style wines. With a background in the tech industry, WillaKenzie Estate founder and engineer Bernard Lacroute is always testing the boundaries between high and low tech. Bernard designed a robotic punch down to gently and consistently punch down the cap during grape fermentation, which he calls Big Foot. In 2007, he designed and custom built a cold storage facility to dramatically cool grapes before processing, thus improving the aromatics and structure of the wines. This sophisticated system can also be programmed to manage the moisture content of grapes in wet years. Whether using high or low tech methods, the goal is always to treat the fruit with tender care from grape to glass. The WillaKenzie Estate Grand Reserve will be released in 2018.