Clay amphoras


We had long dreamed of a vinification process that would yield the micro-oxygenating benefits of oak barrels 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 their adoption of the Gallic oak barrel.

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 only spring water to prepare his natural cement 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.

τ = ½(√5 + 1) = 1,618033989

Starting with the 2004 vintage, the Balisiers wine-making team spent five years experimenting with the new amphora’s oenological effects on Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamaret.

 

 

Our research suggests that our prototypes improved vinification parameters as follows:

  • Micro-oxygenation is enhanced by the porosity of the natural cement;
  • The Brownian motion that activates fluid kinetics is optimized, thereby keeping the lees in suspension and enhancing the structure of the wine;
  • The process involves none of the 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;
  • Vinification proceeds without imparting any oaky aromas (notes of toastiness, whisky-lactone, vanillin, coconut) that would interfere with the wine’s authenticity and fruitiness.