Each wine, as well as each winery is a different story, and what could look similar is actually very different, the setting, the air and the landscape change, and the winemakers have their own gesture and ways that add to the whole difference...
I hadn't in mind to specialize in devatting, but it seems that I'm on my way to the very third devatting of the season... This was not planned at all, I met Catherine of Clos Roche Blanche on the marketplace of Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher where I like to go on saturday mornings when I'm around on weekends. She told me that the harvest was finished and that apart from a devatting the next day, things were calming down. Devatting ? I begin to tilt now when I hear this word (décuvage in French) and you understand that I was tempted to go see that gorgeous grape move before the long winter in the cellars. I checked with Didier Barrouillet, the winemaker, he was OK for my visiting during this job and sunday morning (a wonderful, bright & sunny day of early october) I was there to witness another unloading of fermented grapes...
On our way, I asked if the wild animals were still a problem as I spotted the electric fencing along the vineyard. She said they were considering removing the wires because it was a lot of work to maintain (you have to keep mowing the grass underneath all summer or the electricity will go down to the earth and not stay on the wires) and they're not sure there would be that many losses in letting the roe deers come and go.
First, Didier settled the press on the right setting, because at first there would be just the juice flowing in and out, and continuing by gravity to a vat in the deep tuffeau cellar beneath. A hose connected to the pool under the press goes all the way through the hill, across a narrow vertical tunnel, and lands over the vats and tronconic fermenters area of rthe cellar. There's no pump used here.
Didier does his maximum to unload the vat from the outside, it helps also clear away the CO2, but at sopme point, he'll have to step into the vat from its ceiling opening and continue from inside.
Catherine tells me an interesting thing about these filters : in the past, they were hand-made by the vignerons and they used rye bundles, you would bind them together so that no skin or seed could pass. But then came a time when you didn't find rye anymore, especially that you needed to do these bundles with hand-cut straw, all being cut at the same length. The straw cut by the machines is usually ruined and chopped, and you couldn't do anything with it. Plus, even if they found some, they'd need to check that it's organicly farmed before daring to make filters out of them.
Then they used vine shoots, these were thin and rigid enough to make the job. Now, you get these manufactured filters which are easy to clean (in the past, you'd make your filters/crépines for every vintage.
There's also one such filter at the exit of the pool beneath the press (picture on right), to make sure that no solid part flows down to the vat in the cellar.
Didier says that this metal vat here was custom made on their requirements, as he found that the usual design was too high and too narrow for this grape fermentation. So he asked to the vat maker 3C a wide-bodied, moderately-high vat where he could work at ease and where the exchange surface between the grapes and the air was large enough for the types of maceration/fermentation he looks for.
The unexpected problem which happened is that the tractor in the background had an electrical glitch that kept it from moving, even though the engine could be heard running fine. Didier tried to fix it but the fuses kept blowing and he had to find another way to pull the gondola until he figured out to solve this in the following days.
the fermentation in here lasted 10 days, with destemmed grapes also. By the way, the frapes come from a 20-year old vineyard located on the left just before you enter the courtyard of La Tésnière. It has always been farmed organicly.
Under which name will you find this Cabernet Franc ? Could be part of the cuvée Pif, which is a blend of Côt & Cabernet Franc, but he might as well decide to make a single-variety cuvée of it, he will decide in the coming months, depending of how the wines will behave in winter and spring.