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Monitoring fermentation-induced CO2 becomes the secret weapon for LVMH Champagnes

By Vitisphere September 16, 2022
Monitoring fermentation-induced CO2 becomes the secret weapon for LVMH Champagnes
The new resource is only available to other LVMH companies and will not be made widely available. - crédit photo : MHCS
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new tool for measuring in real time the carbon dioxide emitted by must during alcoholic fermentation has neither a name nor a patent, and remains veiled in secrecy as it is rolled out across tanks producing Moët & Chandon Champagnes for the LVMH group. The new implement provides for granular monitoring, measuring every millisecond of CO2 flow, explains Marc Brévot, director of the Robert-Jean de Vogüé research centre in Oiry, Champagne. The equipment took ten years to develop with the winemaking expertise of the Montpellier Supagro School of Agronomy (Dr Jean-Marie Sablayrolles) and sensors provided by Vivelys (Oeneo group). It provides very detailed measurements of fermentation kinetics and can be used to automatically control winemaking, through temperature management and addition of oxygen, for instance.

CO2 monitoring is much more informative than measuring density, which does not provide any dynamics, or carrying out winemaking analyses, which only provide a few details”, says Brévot. He points out the purpose of identifying when maximum CO2 is released: “Vmax, the tipping point between the exponential growth phase [of the yeasts] and the stationary phase”, he explains. Using the data from the sensors and the characteristics of each batch of grapes, Moët & Chandon has developed proper formulae for conducting alcoholic fermentation. By applying a “retro-engineering” rationale, Moët & Chandon's winemakers control fermentation of each batch in order to obtain a style of end product that matches the house’s signature aroma and flavour profile, says Brévot. “We are aiming for bespoke solutions: each vat is treated differently” through control algorithms. By collecting and analysing data from previous vintages, winemaking strategies can be adapted to suit each individual case. This year, for example, the data is useful for “honing the nitrogen supplementation strategy based on weather conditions for the vintage”, adds Brévot. Optimal fermentation conditions were also defined in the formulae, including turbidity, lipids and early sulphite addition.

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