Far from any intrusive noise and vibration, sheltered from the light of day, protected from cold and heat, the "chai" or winehouse of Château Lagrézette offers the perfect conditions for wine to mature in peace.
Built in 1992, the underground cellars of Lagrézette were devised with a view to both favor the quality of the wine and preserve the environment. Situated at the foot of the château, this sophisticated and uniquely designed winemaking facility allows a non-interventionist vinification process to take place.
Designed on three floors transfer from one level to another takes place through gravitational pull. The handpicked grapes are sorted manually, de-stemmed, and crushed at level 3.
Level 2 is fitted with small temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for alcoholic fermentation, which allows the separate vinification of each parcel. It also houses the oak vats dedicated to the production of the luxury-cuvée – Le Pigeonnier.
Level 1 offers ideal and naturally constant conditions of temperature and hygrometry. This is the place where the Lagrézette wines are allowed to mature in new oak barrels.
A technological challenge
In 2011, after a rigorous review and analysis, the details of the cellar renovation were drawn up. Completed shortly before the 2011 harvest, the interior was completely redone – harmonized as a sleek grey environment – from the sparkling new stainless steel tanks to the slate-grey floor to ceiling tiling.
It all starts with great dedication to the cultivation of Malbec grapes and certainly the terroir plays a vital role. Then comes the savoir-faire that takes place in the cellar – these are the secrets behind the great wines of Lagrézette.
The new winemaking equipment
New, micro-sized stainless steel wagons from Lejeune, robotic, with a space-age look, swiftly carry the grapes directly from the sorting table to the new tanks in order to preserve all of their essential qualities. These nimble carriers are designed to delicately transfer the carefully hand-sorted grapes directly to a platform on the tank’s top without any damage to the fruit – arriving from the floor below by means of a hoist and pouring the grapes directly inside – thus avoiding any pipes or pumps that could potentially bruise the raw material.
The new fermenting tanks of various capacities are tailored for each estate vineyard – in order to preserve the typicity of these individual terroirs. A punch down system designed by Amos will allow for even better Malbec tannin extraction. New stainless steel tanks from Lejeune, as well as the 12 new wooden tanks (8 for the reds and 4 for the whites of Rocamadour) from the esteemed cooperage, Taransaud – plus a new state-of-the-art vertical press – bring even more quality and complexity to the Château Lagrézette wines.
An original winemaking process
To fully respect the integrity of the grape and the wine, this unique winehouse follows a sophisticated process between harvesting and bottling: it comprises 3 levels for the 3 stages of winemaking. The grapes, and then the wine, are moved from one stage to the next by gravity.
The hand-picked grapes are manually sorted, then de-stemmed and crushed on level 3. A system of small carts takes the crushed grapes directly down to level 2, in order to preserve all their organoleptic qualities.
On this level, the stainless-steel vats and the oak barrels each receive the product of a specific plot of the vineyard in order to preserve its specific characteristics. They control the temperature of the must electronically throughout the process of cap-plunging, alcoholic fermentation and maceration.
Here temperature and humidity remain naturally constant at ideal levels for the wines to mature. They are aged nobly in new oak barrels before being assembled by the winemaking consultant, Michel Rolland.