Franck Labeyrie explores novel ways of ageing wines in the natural environment

Tuesday February 27 2018 by Vitisphere

'This really was the perfect year to do the trial - a lot of snow fell “, said the Bordeaux winegrower.'This really was the perfect year to do the trial - a lot of snow fell “, said the Bordeaux winegrower.

Ageing facilities for bottled wines surrounded by a constant flurry of activity from helicopters and a snow groomer are not the usual logistics you would expect to see in the wine industry. But this was what it took to bury a case of 1,200 bottles of wine at an altitude of 2,400 metres in the snow on January 18 in Cauterets. With support from the ski resort and the town hall, winegrower Franck Labeyrie was able to create the Pyrenean igloo that he had built to test how the white and red wines from his Château du Coureau (20 hectares in Graves and 50 ha labelled Bordeaux Supérieur) would mature under snow.

In the wine industry, bottle maturation is something that still needs to be fully explored, despite the fact that there are important levers for optimising quality ", said Labeyrie. “I want to prove to myself and share the idea that wines can improve by being stored in a natural environment. We can optimize storage conditions in a way we cannot do on earth”, he added, pointing to consistent darkness, humidity and cool temperatures (at -0.4°C). Lower oxygen levels may also have an effect.

The sea is the best ageing cellar in the world

The outcome of this first trial of snow-covered maturation will be seen in the spring, when the snow melts and the first comparative tasting showing the differences due to this form of ageing is held. “This is a world first, no one has any perspective on this... But I have a very good feeling about it”, said a confident Franck Labeyrie.



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