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The vinification of Anjou-Saumur wines

Step by step...

Understand the different stages of winemaking. From harvest to bottling, the winegrower will put all his know-how into practice to produce his best cuvée.

1. Destemming (or Destemming)

The grape berries are mechanically separated from the stalk (peduncle supporting the berries). This step eliminates the herbaceous taste that the stalks could give to the grape must.

2. The Press or Pressing

This is a very important step in winemaking, which consists, using a press, in extracting the juice from freshly harvested grapes for the whites, or the already fermented grape marc for the reds. The press or pressing separates the liquid and solid parts of the berries. If the grapes are immediately returned to the press after harvest, this step will define the color of the juice and its taste quality. Pressing after fermentation (for red wines) will allow the marc to be pressed to extract so-called “press” wine.

the destemmer

3. Settling

This stage allows for white and rosé wines to clarify the must before fermentation, and, for red wines, to clarify the wine after fermentation.
In the first case, settling occurs immediately after pressing the harvest. The musts then contain pulp, pips, suspended solids, grape skin, leaf debris, etc. Settling will allow the liquid to be separated from what is not (the fluff).
In the 2nd case, it is the action of gravity which will deposit the particles present at the bottom of the tank. After fermentation, the lees will be removed by suction, and then sent to the distillery.
Settling is carried out either by natural (temperature) or accelerated (enzyming) sedimentation, or by mechanical action using a centrifuge.


4. Reassembly

This operation consists of taking the must from the vats and reincorporating it from the top, sprinkling the cap with marc (solid particles from the harvest). Pumping over is done at the start of fermentation, twice a day, using a pump.
The purpose of this operation is:

  • 1- to bring oxygen to the must. As a result, the tannins, present mainly in the first layers of the grape skins, will be extracted. The supply of oxygen will also promote the multiplication of the yeasts responsible for fermentation.
  • 2- To prevent the cap from altering or oxidizing by humidification

5. Shedding

Delestage consists of transferring the must from one vat to another, so that only the cap of marc, which is highly concentrated in polyphenols and sugars, is kept in the original vat. Under its own weight, the marc crashes to the bottom of the vat and the oxygen fills the rest. 2 or 00 hours later, the must is again reincorporated from the top of the original tank, with a strong flow to allow the cap of marc to be “broken”. Going up in the tank, the marc will bring a great richness to the must.

6. Punching down

Pigeage consists of destructuring the marc by crumbling it to push it into the must, towards the bottom of the vat. This operation gently brings the components of the pomace, rich in tannins, anthocyanins, aromas, into contact with the must. Particularly suited to the vinification of grape varieties that are too sensitive to oxygen, it used to be done barefoot. Today, automatic pigging machines are gradually replacing traditional methods.

load shedding

7. Alcoholic fermentation

Alcoholic fermentation is a chemical reaction that transforms the sugar in grapes into ethanol.
This stage of vinification only occurs if certain conditions are met:

  • 1- the temperature must be between 10°C and 32°C to maintain good control.
  • 2-A sugar concentration, and therefore ultimately a moderate alcohol content so as not to harm the survival of the yeasts
  • 3-good oxygenation
    This fermentation lasts 1 to 3 weeks (and more for the soft ones)

8. Malolactic fermentation

Shortly after alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation occurs for red wines, and for certain white wines. This vinification process aims to transform the malic acid, naturally present in the musts, into lactic acid, which is sweeter. This fermentation, by the presence of natural bacteria (known as lactic) will bring roundness to the wine and reduce the acidity. On the other hand, it is better to avoid it for white and rosé wines seeking aromas and freshness.


9. Running off or Racking

Once all the sugars have been transformed into alcohol, this operation consists of separating the must from the marc to put the wine “clean”, and rid it of all the solid matter (misplaced seeds, scraps of stalks, pieces of skin, etc.) . The must then becomes “free run” wine, and the marc will be used for “press” wine. The subsequent rackings will serve to gradually remove the finer lees.

10. Fining wine

Fining consists of clarifying the wine by adding a coagulating product without flavor or odor (such as egg white, bentonite, gelatin, casein, etc.) which, as it falls, drags the lees that have remained in suspension.

11. Assembly

Blending is a very delicate winemaking operation since it consists of selecting several vinified cuvées from different plots and grape varieties, but from the same geographical area, to blend them according to criteria and complementary taste qualities. The objective is to produce wines with subtle, complex and unexpected aromas.

12. Aging of wine (ageing)

There are 2 types of wine ageing:

  • 1-In vats (resin, stainless steel, concrete, etc.): without direct contact with air, the wine evolves little. Aging in vats is therefore particularly suited to wines for which you want to preserve the freshness, youth and fruitiness of the wine.
  • 2-In barrels: permeable to oxygen, wood (oak being the most commonly used) will allow the wine to evolve significantly throughout its aging in barrels, and will give it a woody and vanilla character. Used mainly for the aging of red wines, wine aged in barrels is often highly appreciated by connoisseurs. However, it is not suitable for all types of wine: if a wine whose grapes were very concentrated in tannins justifies it and supports it, this type of treatment can quickly "eliminate" the aromatic specificities of a wine that is too light. . The age of the wood (new wood favoring the exchange of gases), as well as its quality will be decisive. They will define the woody character of the wine, but also its color.

13. Topping

This operation consists of regularly filling the barrel as it empties by evaporation (called “the angels' share”), to avoid contact between air and wine.


14. Filtration

The purpose of filtration is to clarify the wine as much as possible to make it clear, while eliminating bacteria and yeasts that could end up altering it. It is a delicate operation which, if poorly controlled, can destroy the structure of the wine by removing desirable elements from its quality and its aromas. This step is not necessary for wines whose aging is done over a longer period.

15. Bottling

After filtration, the wine goes to the bottling group for bottling and corking. This is followed by the labeling and capping stage.


Traditional method

The wines of fine bubbles constitute a range of wines which made the history and the notoriety of Saumurois. The limestone soils known as tuffeau chalk give the wines a natural tendency to sparkle. At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, a few entrepreneurs, having noted these particularities, developed the traditional method which gave birth to Saumur Brut and more recently to Crémant de Loire.

  • Step 1: Alcoholic fermentation. It is made as for a still wine.
  • Step 2: Bottling of the still wine with the addition of sugar and yeast, called liqueur detirage.
  • Step 3: The added yeasts will allow the sugars to turn into alcohol. This second alcoholic fermentation will produce CO2, responsible for the effervescence of the wine. This is the "foaming". A deposit will form in the bottom of the bottle: the lees.
  • Step 4: Elimination of the lees by "riddling", the objective being to gradually lower the deposit towards the neck. To do this, a stirrer will pass every day during the aging on lath (9 months minimum for the AOC Saumur Brut, 12 months minimum for the AOC Crémant de Loire) turn each bottle by 1/4, 1/6, or 1/8 turn, while tilting the bottle until the neck is down. This manipulation can also be done automatically thanks to a gyropalettes.
  • Step 5: Disgorging: The neck of the bottle containing the deposit is frozen. When the bottle is opened, the ice cube is expelled thanks to the internal pressure.
  • Step 6: A dose of wine and possibly sugar (also called Liqueur de dosage) will be added to fill in the volume lost during disgorgement. This step will define the type of wine produced (dry, semi-dry, sweet… or raw in which case, no sugar is added after disgorging).
  • Step 7: The final cork is placed, as well as an iron muzzle to prevent the internal pressure from blowing the cork.
the guard

The guard

Wine is particularly sensitive to light (natural or artificial), heat or excess/lack of humidity in the air.
In fact, nothing is better than storing wines in a traditional cellar, in a horizontal position. However, wine cabinets are a good compromise and offer a number of advantages. Formerly reserved for professionals, they are becoming more democratic and are now common in homes.

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