separating the berries from the stems, is done for the entire harvest.
The grapes are hand-sorted
In the past, the destemming and the crushing were done at the same time and a non-negligible quantity of undesirable vegetal matter (pieces of stem, green berries, leaves) was mixed with the wine grapes.
Adding a sorting table between the destemmer and the crusher has enabled removal by hand of all elements that can give a vegetal character to the free run wine. This is a decisive step in the search for quality.
Fermentations and macerations
28 to 30 days
A major phase of the process which comprises fermentation of the grape juice and its transformation into wine. 1/3 of this period is dedicated to fermentation and the remaining 2/3 to maceration. This slow and soft contact of the young wine with the grape skins allows for the extraction of the finest organoleptic elements (color, aromas, texture). The term “infusion” would better describe the process at Cantemerle.
Type of vats
Truncated cone in oak, cylindric in stainless steel, and cubic in cement
The diversity of materials used is not a matter of chance. The stainless steel vats, with their ability to preserve varietal aromas, are used mostly for the vinification of grapes from the younger vines to produce the domain’s second wine. The wooden and cement vats are better adapted to the vinification of grapes from the mature vines at the heart of Cantemerle’s great wine.
Running off and pressing
Selective devatting by layer.
Selective devatting by layer is a Château Cantemerle innovation. After the running off, the top of the cap (dry and oxidated skins) and the bottom (pips, sediments mixed with the marc) are removed and only the heart of the marc possessing the finest phenolic elements are pressed.
The Great Wine: 16 months of aging, of which 12 months are in barrels of French oak (35% new), followed by four months in vats after blending
The great wines are aged in unblended lots, using barrels of 225 liters (soft medium toast) for 12 months. The powerful tannins of the grapes from older vines gradually soften in contact with the elegant components of the 200-year-old oak used for the barrels. The wine is then assembled and clarified in vats, where it rests for four months before bottling.
The second wine: 16 months aging in vats for 50% of the total, with the rest aging in barrels
The second wine, predominantly made from the fruit of the domain’s younger vines, must preserve its fruity and fresh character. To this end—and to avoid a pronounced oakiness—it is aged predominantly in vats and some three-year-old barrels.
Annual average production
600 000 bottles
The domain’s great wine bearing the classic “Château Cantemerle” label represents an average 70% of the total harvest. This percentage may vary slightly depending on the quality of the vintage. The second wine, called “Les Allees de Cantemerle” is made up of the remainder, around 30% of the production.