Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chèvre à deux becs

We’ve just bottled the 2007 Morey-Saint-Denis, and since there was only one barrel of this wine I decided to do it the old-fashioned way, which is to say, straight from the barrel using a chèvre à deux becs (pictured below).

So a couple of months ago I carefully drilled a 22mm hole near the bottom of the front face of the (full) barrel and immediately pushed a clean cork into the freshly drilled hole (actually I used a DIAM composite cork to eliminate the risk of TCA tainting the whole barrel!) It’s surprising how little wine spills out of a hole at the bottom of a full barrel –maybe 20ml in the 3 or 4 seconds it takes to remove the drill and fit the cork.

Anyway, the point of this is so that when bottling day arrives I just fill the cone of the chèvre with wine, place it against the cork and give a gentle push. The cork is pushed into the barrel and floats harmlessly to the top, and the chèvre is in place ready to fill bottles. Done like this there is no disturbance to the fine lees at the very bottom of the barrel and the wine can be bottled crystal clear and with absolutely minimal processing.

The chèvre rather cleverly has a tap to direct the wine to just one of its two spouts at any time. Once the bottle on one spout is full you flip the tap over to the other spout and replace the full bottle with an empty, etc, etc (307 times for this barrel).

It takes a bit of practice to get the fill levels even approximately correct, so I just slightly overfilled each bottle before removing the excess with a depth calibrated syringe (as my mother is doing in the photo below).

As always the bottles are then corked by hand, although with the help of a new and improved machine that I shall write about next week.