AltO de Cantenac Brown is a straightforward, mineral, aromatic, gastronomic wine. We will discover together an essential step in the elaboration of our white wines: stirring of the lees in a barrel, “batônnage” in french.
What is “bâtonnage”?
To add body and mouthfeel to this barrel-fermented white wine, we apply an operation called “bâtonnage”. This is a common treatment used to make rich, full-bodied white wines fermented in oak barrels to enhance aroma and flavor. This practice is used to protect the wine from oxidation due to the oxygenation induced by the barrel walls and bung hole. It also reduces the accumulation of lees on the bottom of the barrel, which can lead to sulfurous and nauseating aromas.
The technique consists of stirring up the dead cells from the wine yeast with a “stick”, hence the name “bâtonnage”. In reality, the winemaker uses a long metal tool that is inserted into the bung hole of the wine barrel. He will then gently stir the wine and mix it with the sediment of dead or residual cells accumulated at the bottom of the barrel and which constitute the lees. The dispersion of the lees in the wine contained in the barrel leads to a homogeneous texture and flavor.
The stirring technique can also be used to promote the growth of lactic acid bacteria when malolactic fermentation is desired.
This is usually done once or twice a week, the winemaker having to establish exactly how often and for how long the wine needs to be stirred to achieve the perfect balance.