The world of Bordeaux wines is a subtle blend of heritage and modernity, loyalty to its history and opening onto the world.
Château de Fontenille is open to modern techniques that better defend authenticity. We offer a range of wines with characteristics capable to reinterpret the spirit of the appellations without betraying anything. Our wines are contemporary like the very image of the wine, rooted to be even more alive and attentive to its time.
To paraphrase what Jean Gabin said “to make a good film you need three things: a good story, a good story and a good story” we claim that “to make good wine you need three things: ripe grapes, ripe grapes and ripe grapes”. This sounds like obvious, but it is essential to make every effort to achieve it.
The quality of a wine is mainly done in the vineyard.
We do not have a “recipe” for our winemaking. Depending on the vintage, our strategies are developed with the help of our oenologist.
The’ ban des vendanges’ gives the official date of the beginning of the campaign. From this date, each winemaker decides on his own harvest date.
The harvest takes place from September to October and lasts about 5 weeks. We start with whites and rosés, then reds. Each plot is harvested after soil samplings which determine the optimal harvest date
The grapes are carefully sorted to remove any plant residues. Sorting the grapes during harvest is an essential step in the development of good wines. We select the best possible grapes, taking into account the vintage and the climatic conditions. By sorting, we take off from the harvest all the unwanted parts likely to alter the quality.
It consists of removing the stalks after sorting. These woody parts are rich in tannins that cause herbaceous tastes.
We do a total destemming before crushing the grapes.
The crushing favors the fruitiness of the wines because it puts the berries juice in contact with the skin. It must be moderate to force the juice to pass through the skin and improve the extraction.
It’s a very important step at Fontenille.
We have a terroir that naturally gives fruity wines. We therefore make every effort to keep this typicity that is unique to us. This operation consists in leaving in contact the juice and the skin of the grape which contains the aroma precursors. Skin maceration increases the aromatic potential of the wine. This operation is protected from oxygen, with carbon dioxide and at low temperature to prevent oxidation.
After a maceration of 10 to 24 hours, we gravitate out of our tanks 75% of the juice and press the rest of the grapes. We use pneumatic presses that work smoothly at low pressures.
Clarification consists in letting the pressing juice decant before fermentation. It is carried out at low temperature (5 ° C °) and in small volumes. The clarification eliminates from the must the coarse compounds which are at the origin of false tastes.
The alcoholic fermentation is carried out at a temperature of 15 to 18 ° C to maintain the expression of the fruit aromas. The effect of the low temperature combined with the clarification leads to a fermentation lasting about 3 weeks. The fermentation of the whites is delicate, because unlike the red wines, the juice ferments alone, without skins and seeds. It is therefore a depleted nutrient environment. For our ‘Cuvée vieilles vignes’ the wines ferment directly in French oak barrels specially “heated” to respect the fruit of our wines.
Once the alcoholic fermentation is over, the wines are kept on lees. The aging lasts about 5 months. We stir the wines once a week to put the lees back on suspension to get wines which are more structured and more ample in the mouth. Sometimes at the end of the aging we carry out a fining process to ensure stability. Then the clarification is completed by a finishing filtration before bottling.
Bordeaux red wines are made from black grapes and white juice grapes. To give them their pigments (their red color) and their tannins, it is therefore necessary to extract them from the skin by passing them through the juice by maceration. This maceration gives the tannic and aromatic structure to a red wine. During vatting, alcoholic fermentation and extraction take place.
Alcoholic fermentation transforms the sugars of the grapes into alcohol. It occurs under the action of yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). It takes about 17.50 grams of sugar to produce 1 ° of alcohol per liter. With the fermentation there is a significant emission of carbon dioxide and an increase in the must temperature. To obtain a good extraction of the phenolic compounds (at the origin of the richness of the wine in aromas and color), we make various choices of technical vinification ways, so that the grape expresses at best its potential. We work by cap punching ‘pigeage’ (an ancestral gesture that consists of punching the cap, that is to say the solids that float at the top of the vat), by unloading (which consists in allowing the vat to empty all of its juice by gravity.
And then again we go through the drained marc cap and by pumping over (clearing the cap composed of solids which stay at the surface by the release of carbon dioxide).
The temperature control is between 20 and 28 ° C, depending on the type of wine sought for.
In general we extend the vatting time after the end of the alcoholic fermentation which can often take three weeks. It is then a question of perfecting the extraction.
When the vatting is over, we separate the wine from the solid parts (skin, seeds). First, drawing off the free run wine. Then we press the marc to get a press wine separated from the free run juice.
This second fermentation transforms, under the action of lactic acid bacteria, the malic acid of the wine into lactic acid. It causes a decrease in the acidity of the wine and its biological stability.
Our leitmotiv: “Time does not respect what is done without it” Paul Morand
The aging takes place during the period between the end of fermentations and bottling. Its role is essential for the appearance of the wine (clarity and stability) but also for its aromas and taste. Wine is “the fruit of grapes”, so before clarification it is very rich in suspended matter and compounds likely to precipitate. We let the time pass and the aging of our wines continues for 18 months.
After two winters it brings natural stability to the wine. Our red wines are aged for all or some partof them in Bordeaux barrels of 225 liters, depending on the vintage. The oak barrel brings aromas of vanilla and toast, but especially it contributes by oxidation, to the stabilization of the wine and the development of the bouquet. Barrel aging lasts usually one year. The tradional aging with some time in barrels makes a greater wine and sublimate the terroir. A great Bordeaux is the combined expression of terroir and aging.
48 hours skin maceration for the Clairet. After maceration, the wine is pressed and fermented like the whites.
Direct pressing, once harvested the grapes go immediately into the press. A Clairet has more colour than a rosé. Its aromas are almost the same as a red wine.