Harvesting, vinification and maturation
An innovative process
An innovative winemaking process has been put in place to allow the most authentic expression of the La Marzelle wines.
From the harvest to the vinification of one of Saint-Emilion's finest Grand Cru Classé wines.
Harvesting begins at the end of September and lasts around ten days, spread over 3 to 4 weeks. This allows each plot to reach optimum ripeness. This staggering takes into account our different grape varieties and terroirs.
Harvesting at La Marzelle is 100% manual, and is carried out at the optimum ripeness of each plot. Technical ripeness (sugar and acid) and phenolic ripeness (skins, pips, anthocyanins) are taken into account, as well as observations in the field and tasting of the grapes.
The bunches are transported to the winery like precious objects, in small crates, and are received in front of our winery, where we have set up our harvest reception area.
Following on from the investment in the new vat room in 2012, new equipment was added to our highly selective harvest reception system in 2013 and 2014.
2013: Purchase of a new de-stemmer, 'the cube' from SOCMA, which separates the grapes from the bunch much more efficiently than previous generations of de-stemmers. This equipment is also equipped with a vibrating table to remove millerandage and botrytised grapes.
2014: purchase of equipment to select grapes according to their density: the Tribaie. The grapes are immersed in a sugar solution, set each year at one percentage point of potential alcohol for the Merlot grapes. Grapes above this percentage of potential alcohol sink and constitute the first category. Grapes below this percentage float and form the second category. This is because not all the grapes in the same bunch are equally ripe, and less ripe grapes give the wine less interesting vegetal notes.
Finally, the Calibaie separates the smaller, more concentrated grapes from the larger ones. A conveyor belt then transports the grapes to the top of the vat.
La visualisation de la réception vendange
After the harvest has been received, the grapes enter the winery. A conveyor belt transports the grapes to the top of the vats.
Since 2012, the vat room has been completely renewed, with the acquisition of double-walled truncated cone-shaped vats of varying capacities, adapted to the estate's parcel selection. A 100% natural, thermo-regulated lightweight cement vat completes the equipment. Twenty 500-litre barrels are added each year.
Once the vats have been filled, the winemaking process begins with a pre-fermentation maceration phase lasting 4 days at 5°C.
From the 5th day onwards, we raise the temperature in the vat to launch alcoholic fermentation, during which the yeasts transform the sugar into alcohol. This fermentation takes 6/8 days, depending on the grape variety and the year.
After around 8 days, a post-fermentation maceration phase is used to build the wine for ageing. This fermentation lasts 2 to 3 weeks, allowing the skins to relax and the tannins to be released.
Daily tastings enables us to determine the right moment to remove the wine and carry out malolactic fermentation after these 4 to 5 weeks.
The ageing of the wines
We have two barrel cellars that allow us to age our wines for up to twelve months.
After vinification, the wines are placed in barrels or terracotta amphorae for twelve to fourteen months in a cool, damp atmosphere. The wines are then carefully monitored, with regular microbiological analyses and tastings. In the spring, we rack all the barrels and amphorae.
Depending on the vintage, ageing lasts between 14 and 16 months.
Château La Marzelle Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé
The first wine is matured for 16 months in new French oak barrels and terracotta amphorae to bring out the best in our Cabernet Franc grapes.
Château Prieuré La Marzelle Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
The second wine is aged in 500L new French oak barrels for 14 months.
Elle de La Marzelle Saint-Emilion
The third wine is aged in one-year-old French oak barrels for 8 months.
At the end of their maturation and in preparation for bottling, the wines are removed from the barrels and blended according to tasting criteria. We also carry out fining to optimise the tasting of our wines.