The “chais” (winery and stores)



An exchange of land in return for vines with the neighbouring abbey at La Sauve-Majeure attests to the fact that wine has been produced here since the XIIth century.  However, there is no record in the abbey archives of where vinification actually took place.  It is easy to imagine that the wine was made close to ‘Castelneau’ benefitting[1] from its protection.  In any case, the buildings are the product of two phases of construction, first in the XVIth and  then in the XVIIIth century.

 

Today the ‘chai’ is divided into three sections:

  • Le chai de vinification (the winery): has been equipped with stainless steel (Lejeune) vats since 1988, all of the same standard purchased progressively in line with the growth of the vineyard.

These vats have a cooling system using first of all water from a well (at 11oC), supplemented by refrigeration.

Since 2007 a new building houses a new chai de vinification, which is used solely for the estate’s white wines.

 

  • Le chai de conservation (cellar): built between the wars by Loïc de Roquefeuil’s maternal grandfather, André Minvielle. It has been renovated through the creation of doors, the weather proofing of the vents and the installation of sampling taps.   The 21 vats are lined with epoxy resin.  Each of these vats was intended to accommodate the harvest gathered by a group of twenty workers in a single day.  These small quantities enable the creation of small and select blends.

 

  • Le chai de vieillisement (ageing cellar):

The first part is used for the vinification and ageing of our old Semillon grapes which give us our Entre-deux-Mers “Réserve du Château”.  The grapes arrive early in the morning, are pressed and the juice kept cold and decanted/allowed to settle over the course of the day.  The next morning the clear juice on the surface is put into barrels, where it will ferment often much more slowly than in a vat.

 

The 18 barrels used are made from French oak from the Vosges and Tronçay, from American oak of the Missouri and two come from forests of the Ukraine.  Ten are new and eight are one year old, having already aged last year’s Réserve.

 

The second ‘chai’ is reserved for the ageing of our red wines.

  • Our Réserve du Château fruit of our oldest wines is barrel aged for eighteen months in new barrels of French oak, with racking every three months.
  • Our traditional vintage is aged for six months in barrels of 3, 4 or 5 years of age. The used barrels are then sold to a Belgian gardener who cuts them in half, adds three wheels and a pair of handls and makes flower tubs!