The work in the Cellars
The art of vinifying a Grand Cru Classé.
Tradition and expertise come together in the wooden vat-house at Château Léoville Barton to enhance the unique character of each grape variety.
During the harvest at Château Léoville Barton, the grapes are brought to the vat-house where they are de-stemmed before being sorted on an optical sorting table and then transferred to temperature controlled wooden vats. The imposing vat-house is the perfect illustration of the traditional approach to wine making at Château Léoville Barton.
The fermentation process generally lasts a few days during which the juices are pumped over the top of the vat twice a day in order to keep the cap of skins moist and enable the juices to absorb the colours, tannins and aromas from this marc. When the maceration process is complete, the next stage is running off the wine i.e. transferring the wine to French oak barrels in which it will be left to age for 18 months. 60% of the barrels used are new oak and sourced from a range of different coopers.
Several different procedures are carried out during the 18 month ageing process, the first of which is topping up. This involves keeping the barrels full in order to prevent the wine from coming into contact with the air.
The next stage is racking the wines. This process is carried out every three months using the candle method which has remained unchanged for several generations. The aim is to separate the clear wine from the sediment (lees) that form in the bottom of the barrels due to gravity.
The last traditional intervention is the process of fining the wines using egg whites. The Oenologist will choose to use between three and six egg whites per barrel. This technique takes place 14 months through the ageing process and consists of separating the egg white from the yolk by hand and then introducing only the whites into the barrels. The proteins in the egg whites attract the floating particles and clarify the wine. A special post-fining racking is performed after 45 days to remove the egg white and sediment.
The alchemy of blending is usually complete by the end of January. It is at this stage that the tasting profile of the vintage is determined in the tasting room at Château Léoville Barton. The Barton family, the Technical Director and Eric Boissenot, the Consultant Oenologist, taste the different batches and varieties to fine tune the final wine and reflect the very best of each plot.
The bottling takes place at the château in Saint Julien in the month of June using our own facilities.