Mar 25, 2016

Happy Easter! Wine out of eggs?

Eggs are all around these days, also in the wine cellars. No kidding! But this time it's nothing to do with Easter, I promise.

At the moment we are facing the next trend in wine cellars in Germany. Well, actually this is not a new method at all, at least it is one of the oldest ways to produce wine, but it is revived by winemakers and transfered into the present. Wine out of the egg!

After vessels of wood, plastics, steel and wood again, it's concrete this time. Eggs made of concrete, to produce and mature wine. One would think this is just wool-gathering or esoteric nonsense but the results proof sceptics to be wrong. Part of this actually is kind of esoteric as the egg is seen as a perfect shape to let energy (and wine) homogenious circulate. No lumps and bumps. But honestly, the wines out of eggs I tasted up to now totally satisfied me and refuted my skepticism.

At least some of the most recognized vintners here in Franconia use the egg by way of trail. One of those, the Weingut am Stein, sitting in the famous vineyard called Würzburger Stein, already is beyond the test and trail phase, as they built a completely new cellar for their seven concrete eggs, where some of their best Silvaner grapes mature. Besides this there are also some amphoras buried here where wine matures "on its mash", just like it was made in the early days and still is widely done in Georgia, where the Qvevri called amphoras originally come from. The Qvevri is also shaped like an egg, an as said, used since the beginnings.

But what makes up this wines? No idea if just my mind played a trick on me, but the samples I tasted were quite smooth and rounded, like the shape of the vessels. But there is some evidence that could explain this a bit. Of course the unhampered flow of the juice and the yeasts foster the homogenious fermentation and maturation of the wine. Experts are at odds if the concrete facilitates the micro-oxidation because of its porosity. Recently I had the chance to talk to an academic of the leading research instistute, the Landesanstalt für Wein- und Gartenbau in Veitshöchheim (regional institute for wine and agriculture), who contradicted this theory. As the concrete usually is quite aggressive against acid it has to be prepared against this, otherwise it would completely neutralize the acids in the wine. By this preparation the pores are closed so that there is no chance for oxigen to come through.

Another theory is that the thick concrete covering sees to it that the temperature is somewhat buffered, but this is also with a stainless steel vessel and temperature control. Actually it is harder to cool the juice during fermentation within the egg. So this seems also not to be the reason. But what's it then?

My personal theory is that a vintner, who is engaged in trying this new methods, is much more sensitive and caring for his wines and therefore could only produce excellent wines. And probably at least there is something inbetween science and belief. The egg is perfectly shaped to the Golden ratio, let it be esoteric, which closes the circle to the beginning of this post.

Let it flow... ah, and Happy Easter after all!
Ingo