Page 10 - Grapevine_MayJune_2022_Rev
P. 10

In The Winery

                 The unifying thread is that these wines prioritize   that minimize temperature fluctuations and add-
               extended skin contact, regardless of the compo-      ons such as doors, drain holes, valves and sample
               sition. In Georgia and Armenia — where ampho-        taps to facilitate fermenting, aging and cleaning.
               rae-based wine production has its origins — the      Some have produced vessels with varying porosity,
               vessels are called “qvevri” and “karas,” respec-     within limits, due to high-temperature firing tech-
               tively. The amphorae are large, egg-shaped pots      niques, amphorae that limit contact with yeast by
               and, for hygienic reasons, are lined with beeswax.   their design, and larger-sized amphorae that can
               Ancient Romans used a large oval clay vessel called   maintain original reliability performance. It’s also
               a “dolium,” which had a large opening at the top     possible to use vineyard soil in the clay to form an
               and a rounded body attached to a flat or rounded     amphora with a local footprint.
               bottom. The dolia, often six feet in height with a
               2500-liter capacity, were kept underground with a      Today’s amphorae are not inexpensive: Generally,
               constant temperature all year. The Spanish used a    prices begin at around $3,000. A stainless steel tank
               massive clay vessel called a “tinaja,” which tapers   starts at $1,000, and an oak barrel can range in
               at the top and the bottom like an egg. Tinaja are    price from $900 to $2,000, depending on whether
               used by some contemporary winemakers in La           it’s American or French Oak. Concrete tanks, which
               Mancha, Valdepeñas and Montilla-Moriles. In          offer benefits similar to amphorae, may cost as
               Portugal’s Alentejo region, many winemakers are      much as $14,000 for a 470-gallon capacity vessel.
               reviving the country’s tradition of fermenting in    While amphora and concrete represent a significant
               amphorae called a “talha.” The talhas are massive    investment, those who use them say the benefits
               and can produce 1000 liters of wine. The region      are worth the expense. Not only do the vessels last
               even has the world’s only appellation dedicat-       for decades, but they also yield competitive wines
               ed to wines made in amphora, Vinho de Talha.         of all varieties.
               Italians use the terms “anfore,” “orci” or “giare” for
               amphorae. Tuscany has been the center of clay ves-     With amphorae technology continuing to evolve,
               sel production for generations.                      winemakers considering vinification with this meth-
                                                                    od should research their options seriously. First of
                 The revival of amphorae is leading innovative      all, confirm that the amphorae selected are specifi-
               producers to experiment with improvements in         cally made for wine and have been tested and cer-
               the vessels, specifically in the areas of oxygen     tified to ensure there is no risk of contamination.
               transfer rates, porosity, effects of different firing   Potential buyers should also consider how much
                                                 temperatures,      oxygen the wine needs, ease of sanitation and
                                                 testing of ele-    cleaning, thermal insulation properties, the safety
                                                 ments released     of materials and durability of the vessel.
                                                 by amphorae,
                                                 durability and       Amphorae are taking us back to the future.
                                                 ease of clean-     Winemakers, who by nature are continually looking
                                                 ing/improved       for innovative ways to produce wines, are embrac-
                                                 sanitation,        ing this old technology with enthusiasm. For them,
                                                 among other        opportunities with amphorae abound.
                                                 areas. Many of
                                                 today’s ampho-
                                                 rae are far from
                                                 those used
                                                 6,000 years ago,
                                                 with producers
                                                 offering her-
                                                 ceramic lids

               Page 8                             The Grapevine • May - June 2022                              877-892-5332

          Grapevine Main Pages GV030422_Layout 1-1  copy.indd   8                                                   4/21/22   11:52 AM
   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15