Château wines are any wines produced from grand and closely-monitored vineyards. These vineyards are located within castle-like residences and tended by special groups of winemakers and their teams. Most of the popular chateau wines originate from the Bordeaux region in France. The said region can produce hundreds of bottles of wines everyday. It includes a wide variety of wines starting from the classic table wine up to the luxurious bottles of wines known to the world.
Some of us would like to know how these extraordinary wines came to be. Here is how they are made.
- Grapes and Vine Selection. Almost all of the chateau wines are blended wines, such as those produced in Château Latour, Château Belair and Château Belvedere. Making them always starts with careful destemming, sorting and pruning of grapes or vines. These are to make sure that there is an adequate volume to start the initial process. Later on, the grape juices or the must, are extracted carefully, avoiding having seeds getting crushed. This helps in eliminating tannins, which are bitter chemical substances that sometimes make wines difficult to drink.
- Wine Pressing and Fermentation. Château wine producers use stainless steel or wooden vats and concentrators. Vats are large containers, as tubs or tanks, used for storing or holding liquids. They are highly recommended as it helps control temperature, a very important component in any wine making process. This is strictly followed in Château Pétrus, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Margaux and Château La Roche. They are big producers of classic Bordeaux red wines and clarets. Concentrators on the other hand, contribute a lot to separating water from the must, making wine more condensed in its early stages. This preserves and maintains the natural flavors of the extracted grapes and also helps in speeding up the process to make way for fermentation. The Château wines usually undergo barrel-ageing for fermentation. Six months are basically required for standard wines, but for a Château wine, it is barrel-aged for 18-20 months. Yeast is added to the must. It interacts with the sugars to produce ethanol. Oak chips are optional to enhance flavor. The wine bottles are then placed horizontally in wooden or metal frames to clear them up from the lees, which are the substance and particles left at the bottom.
- Wine Classification. Once the wine has aged within the right amount of time, the classification begins. The first blend is classified as Château grand vin. The wine left from the first blend is released as the chateau second-wine or in some instances, even as chateau third-wine. Bottled Château wines from St. Emilion and some domaines are most recognized, for they always come from the first blend.
Wines even in the fermentation stage can be purchased. Orders are sometimes then placed in advance for some of the top chateau wines. This is what wine producers call as selling en primeur. This gives the prospect customers the chance to invest in a particular wine before it is bottled. Some wine experts recommend buying barrels of fermented wine, as the prices are more affordable than they will be once released in the market.