Vinification is the process that transforms the grapes into wine. The process of vinification differ from region to region, financial state of the winery and the grape types. The harvesting time and the type of oak used for aging are based on the region in which the wine grapes are grown.

Wine making process involves the following stages:

  • The first step in wine making process is Harvesting or Picking. Grapes should be harvested at the right time in order to make good wine. Harvesting can be done either mechanically or by hand.
  • The process of separating the grapes from the stems and cluster parts is called Destemming. Some of the wine makers keep some fragments of the stem to increase the wine tannin.
  • After destemming the grapes are crushed to extract the juice from the skin. This is done before the fermentation process begins. In the olden days bare feet is used to extract the grape juice, now a day machines like crushers are used.
  • Separation of grape juice and the skin is named as pressing. After crushing the grape juice will flow freely, selected wineries use pressers to make sure maximum juice is released.
  • Once the grapes are pressed they are introduced into the process of fermentation. During this process the grape juice are converted into alcoholic beverage. The yeast interacts with the sugar in the grape juice and converts them into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
  • Once the wine is purified and refined, they are preserved with sulfur dioxide or potassium sorbate. During the natural process of fermentation a minimum amount of sulfites are produced, but more is added for the use of commercial preservation.
  • Wines are aged for a particular amount of time to get more welcoming wine. Once after purification, the wines are moved to wooden barrels for aging. Metal vats, concrete vats and glass carboys are also used in some cases to increase the flavor.
  • After aging, the wines are bottled. During the process of bottling a final dose of sulfite is added to the wine to prevent it from uninvited fermentation in the bottle. The bottles are then sealed with cork and screw caps.
Château Cheval Blanc is a 1er Grand Cru Classé estate in the St-Emilion classification, alongside Ausone.
An 18-litre bottle of Cheval Blanc 2006 being prepared for auction at Sotheby's in 2010.

St-Emilion wine council 'regrets' withdrawals but defends process for upcoming 2022 classification...

The post Cheval Blanc and Ausone to leave St-Emilion classification appeared first on Decanter.


Château Cheval Blanc is a 1er Grand Cru Classé estate in the St-Emilion classification, alongside Ausone.
An 18-litre bottle of Cheval Blanc 2006 being prepared for auction at Sotheby's in 2010.

St-Emilion wine council 'regrets' withdrawals but defends process for upcoming 2022 classification...

The post Cheval Blanc and Ausone to leave St-Emilion classification appeared first on Decanter.

Château Cheval Blanc is a 1er Grand Cru Classé estate in the St-Emilion classification, alongside Ausone.
An 18-litre bottle of Cheval Blanc 2006 being prepared for auction at Sotheby's in 2010.

Ausone and Cheval Blanc have each separately announced their intention to withdraw from the St-Emilion classification, which is renewed every 10 years and is currently being revised for 2022.

The renowned estates were reconfirmed as St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ in the 2012 classification, at the very the summit of the hierarchy.

While Ausone said a decision to withdraw was taken independently from Cheval Blanc, both châteaux cited issues with the judging criteria for the St-Emilion classification.

In a 12 July letter seen by Decanter and also sent to Bordeaux négoçiant houses and courtiers, Château Cheval Blanc’s director, Pierre Lurton, technical director Pierre-Olivier Clouet and commercial director Arnaud de Laforcade explained their decision.

‘In 2012 (the last classification re-evaluation), we noticed a profound change in the philosophy of the classification, especially regarding new criteria that amount to “marketing drift”, such as the importance of product placement, how often an estate appears in media, including PR and in social media, along with wine tourism infrastructure,’ they wrote.

Amounting to only 15% of the final grade, far too little importance is given to terroir and viticulture in criteria to judge a wine, the Cheval Blanc representatives added.

They also questioned the ‘evaluation system’, which they described in the letter as having lost sight of the ‘notion of identity and typicity, as if the culture of wine, its aging capacity over several decades, and knowledge of the appellation were unnecessary for evaluating the estates’.

At the premier grand cru classé level for the 2022 ranking, 50% of an estate’s final grade will come from a blind tasting of the last 15 vintages. Tasting notes constituted 30% of the grade in the 2012 classification.

But several sources within Bordeaux who did not want to be named criticised a job advertisement seen earlier this year, seeking tasters for this important ranking assessment.

St-Emilion Wine Council defends process

Franck Binard, St-Emilion Wine Council director, defended the evaluation process as guided by France’s national appellation body, INAO, and said it would be managed by a ‘prominent wine expert’.

Replying to criticism of not emphasising terroir enough, Binard said St-Emilion is a ‘mosaic of terroirs’ and that ‘it would be very difficult to make a hierarchy of the different types of terroirs, many of which can make great wines’.

As for public job ads for tasters, Binard said that they were placed in a spirit of transparency so that no accusations of favouritism could be levelled against the system.

The Cheval Blanc representatives wrote that they ‘accept and appreciate’ evaluations of their wines when ‘often tasted by national and international critics and competent professionals’, but the rules for the official classification ‘are so far removed from our concerns, that we cannot bring ourselves to adhere to them’.

Ausone: ‘We had been mulling over our decision for a long time’

Château Ausone’s co-owner, Pauline Vauthier, stressed that her family’s choice to leave the St-Emilion classification wasn’t made ‘in concert’ with Château Cheval Blanc, but echoes the same reasoning.

‘We had been mulling over our decision for a long time, and finally decided to opt out (of the classification),’ she said. ‘Marketing and wine tourism are very nice things, but the measure of great wine comes down to terroir, viticulture and time.’

She said that a 10-year re-evaluation period based on verticals of 15 years is ‘too short’ to properly judge a wine’s capacity to age.

‘It was not an easy decision, but we continue to wholeheartedly support the St-Emilion and St-Emilion Grand Cru appellations,’ she added.

The Cheval Blanc letter also underscores the estate’s ‘pride’ for the appellation, and a commitment to defending it with ‘fervour’ and ‘conviction’.

Record number of applications for St-Emilion 2022 classification

The St-Emilion Wine Council, which represents hundreds of estates in both the St-Emilion and St-Emilion Grand Cru appellations, reacted with sadness to the news.

‘While we respect their right to withdraw, we regret this very much,’ said Binard.

He explained how 2021 saw the ‘highest number ever’ of dossiers submitted to the classification, according to the INAO, and that because the classification is re-evaluated every 10 years, that reflects the ‘dynamism’ of St-Emilion.

Château Angélus and Château Pavie were promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ in the 2012 ranking, a tier previously only home to Ausone and Cheval Blanc.

Yet there have been enduring legal challenges to the 2012 list. Châteaux Croque-Michotte, Corbin-Michotte and La Tour du Pin Figeac, which were demoted in 2012, have questioned the legitimacy of the ranking, although the hierarchy was upheld by a Bordeaux appeals court in 2019.

A final judgment over allegations of conflict of interest is expected in September this year, while a final judgment about the 2012 classification itself is still on hold for now, said Binard.

While the withdrawals of Ausone and Cheval Blanc mark a seismic change for the classification, some merchants beyond Bordeaux said buyers would likely still be interested in those estates’ wines.

‘I can see how Ausone and Cheval Blanc wanted to differentiate themselves from Pavie and Angélus, since those two estates became officially ranked at the same level’, said Michael Grimm, of Bacchus-Vinothek in Germany.

He said that his buyers will continue to purchase Ausone and Cheval Blanc, even if they lose their classification rank, because ‘what matters for consumers is the strong historical brand that both estates have’.

St-Emilion’s 2012 classification was the sixth revision of the ranking since its launched in 1955, having been agreed in the previous year.

The current 2012 list ranks 64 estates as St-Emilion Grand Cru Classé, with 14 as St-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé.

They are: Châteaux Beau-Séjour Bécot, Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse, Bélair-Monange, Canon, Canon-La-Gaffelière, Figeac, La Gaffelière, La Mondotte, Larcis-Ducasse, Pavie-Macquin, Troplong-Mondot, Trottevieille, Valandraud and Clos Fourtet.

Four estates got the Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ rating in 2012, as stated above: Angélus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Pavie.

The post Cheval Blanc and Ausone to leave St-Emilion classification appeared first on Decanter.


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Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Laurel Gray Vineyards

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