Clay amphoras


We had long dreamed of maturing our wines in a way that would yield the micro-oxygenating benefits of oak vats but without imparting the “oakiness” which all too often overshadows the fruity notes of varietals. This eventually led us to explore how the ancient Romans matured their wines in amphora made of clay or natural cement prior to the Gallic invention of the oak vat.

It was then that we met Marc Nomblot in Burgundy. This passionate craftsman was able to apply ancient manufacturing skills to make containers of every shape and size using spring water, without any metal reinforcements, binding agents or chemical additives. 

Our amphora prototypes were based on Ptolemy’s “golden number”, replicating the perfect geometrical shape of an egg.

Starting with the 2004 vintage, the Balisiers wine-making team spent five years experimenting with the new amphora’s oenological effects on Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamaret. Our research suggests that our prototypes improved vinification parameters as follows:

 

  • Micro-oxygenation is enhanced by the micro-porosity of the natural cement
  • The Brownian motion that activates fluid kinetics is optimized
  • The absence of metal circling, reinforcements and sides completely eliminates contingent magnetic effects on the wine (i.e. the Faraday cage effect)
  • Also eliminated are any adverse effects associated with the use of stainless steel or the wine’s contact with a coating of synthetic resins that can impart residual chemicals
  • The movement of the wine and fine dregs is enhanced by the bio-dynamic ovoid shape
  • The wine is matured without taking in any woody aromas (notes of toastiness, whisky-lactone, vanillin, coconut) that would interfere with its authenticity and fruitiness.