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'Concrete Eggs' May Be The Future Of Winemaking

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concrete egg

When we think of wine, we imagine underground cellars of the stuff aging in wooden barrels. But that could change thanks to the growing popularity of "concrete eggs."

The Drinks Business tells us that leading Chilean organic and biodynamic producer Emiliana is one of the latest outfits to begin using the egg-shaped concrete vats.

The company's commercial director, Cristian Rodrigue, told the publication that he believes the method, which begins with fermentation in the eggs and finishes with a brief stay in traditional barrels, achieves a style that's “softer with much more fruit."

Although concrete has been used in winemaking since the 19th century, the new egg shape's lack of dead corners provides better uniformity of the liquid's composition and helps it maintain a more constant temperature. The process is also less reductive than stainless steel, which can produce wines that are crisp but lack the complexity and mouthfeel of traditional wines.

The Newcastle Herald reports that the first egg-shaped concrete fermentation vat was commissioned in 2001 by Michel Chapoutier, whose family's winery traces its beginnings to the early 19th century. It was made by French vat manufacturer Marc Nomblot, whose company has made traditional concrete vats since 1922.

Chapoutier's vats are 2.1 meters high, hold 600 liters of liquid and cost $6,000. Now that the vats are gaining popularity, however, Chapoutier believes he deserves compensation -- despite never have signed anything in the way of patents:

According to The Newcastle Herald:

Marc Nomblot was ‘‘honest and a dreamer’’, and the wrangle over the egg began after he left the company last year and the Beaune-based business was bought by a larger corporation, the Bonna Sabla Group.

Chapoutier said the egg fermentation vessel was the result two years of work by him and his team and he had never received ‘‘a single centime’’ from Nomblot.

Chapoutier has tried to reach an agreement with Bonna Sabla to no success, and the paper suggests a lawsuit is likely.

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