Behind the scenes at Castel’s Bordeaux facilities

Thursday August 17 2017 by Vitisphere

“A negociant’s purpose is to make bespoke products tailored to suit its customers’ requirements”, summed up Stéphane Michelet, quality control manager at Castel’s Blanquefort facilities near Bordeaux during a visit on August 3.

With a plant that bottled 115 million bottles in 2016, the Bordeaux group is faced with a pretty tall order – putting its ethos into practice when working on a scale that tends to promote standardisation requires huge organisational skills. The Blanquefort facilities bottle between 500,000 and 600,000 bottles a day with 25 to 30 different labels. The plant’s 11 bottling lines can package 2,500 different labels.

The challenge is made all the more complex by the fact that the shipping firm has set itself a tight schedule: any batch of bulk wine entering the facilities must be ready for shipping a week later which does not allow much time considering the wines have to be analysed, stabilised, blended and bottled in that time.

Japanese requirements

We receive unprocessed wines that have not been stabilised for bottling so that they keep better and we can have greater control over their profile. It also enables us to use different types of winemaking practices”, added Stéphane Michelet. Filtering and stabilisation processes are basically adapted to suit three different destinations – the French market (78% of volumes), exports and Japan, which is in a league of its own. Unlike other markets, electro dialysis is used for tartaric stabilisation of wines bound for Japan.

Requirements are primarily stipulated in specifications provided by the clients, on top of BRC, IFS and ISO 14001 certification standards. “In challenging years, it is harder to find wines”, admitted Isabelle Coustou, head of the wine department at Castel’s Blanquefort facilities. In the event of climatic events like frost this year, sourcing becomes much more challenging.

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