Vessels, vessels, and more vessels: Amphora
By fermenting and aging in different shaped vessels made from various materials, we learn more about our wines, winemaking in general, and we actually understand traditional barrel aging better. There will probably never be a perfect recipe of which wine to place in exactly which vessel to be repeated year in and year out – thankfully – that would not be nearly as much fun! Experimenting and experiencing different fermentation and aging vessels is just one of the components on our continual educational journey towards wine education.
What is an Amphora? A vessel made from terracotta in a traditional “amphora” shape.
Why do we use this?
- We are trying amphora out of interest mostly and because it is made of a porous substance from the earth – clay!
- Used in ancient Rome and Greece for storage of food and wine.
- There is a comeback, a “what’s old is new again,” for terracotta and winemaking. Clay amphora can be used for fermentation or aging. We are trying it for both!
- Our amphora comes from Florence, Tuscany and is made from the same world-famous clay that produces Tuscan clay roofs and traditional amphora in Italy.
- The amphora is made by hand through affixing coils of wet clay together.
- Some amphora can be lined internally with bees wax, which reduces the oxygen exposure or the amount the amphora breathes
- Wine producers connected to the “natural” wine movement around the globe are bringing back this ancient aging technique to help enhance the purity of their wines.
- For us, it is another material to experiment with and track the reaction of our wine. Amphora clay has a different chemical make-up than oak or concrete and different pore size, thus a different interaction with oxygen.
- Totally theoretical speculation, but if concrete helps preserve the minerality of the wine, we think maybe the terracotta will enhance the earthiness (the ground in the earth) association of our wines.
- The shape of our amphora is very traditional, however, we do not know yet how its special shape will affect the wine.
More fun vessels to be revealed this week. Come back tomorrow : )