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In The Winery

               back to ancient roots. Others, including New World   tral material, the presence of oxygen enables wines
               winemakers who have no history of using ampho-       to develop without imparting any additional flavors.
               rae, such as Chile, South Africa, Australia, Argentina  In addition, clay is an excellent thermal conductor,
               and the U.S., are also using the age-old method to   which releases the heat from fermentation, so
               make new and original wines. So far, the reviews     there is no need for temperature control, especially
               have been positive. According to proponents, mod-    if the vessel is buried in the ground according to
               ern use of this technique allows for slow micro-ox-  Georgian tradition. The wine evolves slowly, pre-
               ygenation, naturally-controlled temperatures, pure   serving the fresh and fruity aromas.
               expression of the fruit and softening of the acidity –
               or, if fired at a very high temperature, preservation     In the early days of winemaking, amphora size
               of acidity.                                          was generally around 30 liters. Today, amphorae
                                                                    may range from 320 liters to 1600 liters. The wine-
                 These benefits of fermenting and aging in ampho-   making process begins when the pressed must is
               ra are due to the unique properties of the vessel,   placed into the amphora, which is then sealed.
               just as winemaking in oak barrels and stainless steel  Fermentation is spontaneous due to the presence
               offer their own distinctive characteristics. Oak bar-  of indigenous yeast in the fruit. During fermenta-
               rels are porous and allow exposure to oxygen but     tion, the curved nature of the pots creates a swirl-
               also contribute flavors from the wood’s tannins.     ing motion that gently extracts flavors and some
               Stainless steel tanks are hermetically sealed and    tannins from the grapes and forces solids to settle
               provide an oxygen-free environment, resulting in     at the bottom, leaving a clear, bright wine. There is
               fresh, crisp wines. Clay amphorae fall somewhere     little or no need to filter. Natural tannins found in
               in the middle. Because clay is porous, the vessel    grape skins, pips and stalks provide a natural pre-
               allows oxygen exposure as wines age, which helps     servative, so adding sulfur is unnecessary.
               soften tannins and flavors. Also, since clay is a neu-

               Page 6                             The Grapevine • May - June 2022                              877-892-5332

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