This week we visited the winery to taste some of the new wines, including our biodynamic sparkling currently fermenting in the concrete egg! As far as we know, we're one of only two producers in the UK making wine in eggs. But what's the concept behind it?
Rather than a new winemaking trend, the idea of using egg-shaped fermenters has actually been around since ancient times according to findings of archaeologies in Georgia who unearthed clay pots known as 'qvevri'. Similar objects named 'amphora' were then found in Greece and Rome, before barrels then tool over as the primary means of storing and transporting wine.
When wine ferments, it produces heat causing the liquid to move around. The egg's smooth surface, without corners, allows the wine to move continuously and freely whilst remaining in contact with the 'lees' at all times. As a result, more complex flavours develop than in a barrel or tank.
At the same time, the semi-porous concrete container allows the wine to 'breathe', softening the tannins while the liquid ages. This is difficult to achieve in a tank and, whilst barrels allow air in, they also impart oak flavours which we don't always want in our wines.