Two revolutionary machines that could transform winemaking are making headlines in Bordeaux.
The first is La Tribaie, a grape sorting machine that ensures levels of selection and care previously only available with the costly and time-consuming manual triage. It has been in use at Chateau Val d’Or in St Emilion and Chateau Picaron in Cotes de Castillon for some time, but is being popularized by its adoption by André Lurton.
‘This machine does in one hour the work that ten people can achieve in one day – and even then they would not be able to get these levels of accuracy,’ Lurton told decanter.com.
The second, Le Latarm, has been invented by Patrick Latorse of Vignobles Latorse in Entre Deux Mers, and is potentially even further-reaching. It should put an end to sulphuric gases that leak during racking, and end centuries of headaches, stomach aches and other occupational hazards for those working in the chais.
Lurton has introduced La Tribaie at Chateau de Rochemorin in Péssac Leognan. It works by dropping freshly picked fruit onto an adhesive roller, which anything slightly rotten sticks to, along with the stalks, leaves and green berries.
At the second level of selection the healthy fruit drops into a bag containing grape juice at a known density. The best grapes (with enough sugar in them to have good potential alcohol levels) drop to the bottom, and the remainder float. These perfect grapes are then ready for fermentation in the usual manner.
Explaining why he developed Le Latarm, Latorse said, ‘I was sick of coming home with a headache or stomach ache from inhaling so much sulphur during racking,’
His invention is a simple dual-piped tap that gets rid of sulphuric gases at the same time as allowing the barrels to be refilled.
The device fills the barrels in under two minutes, and has a second tap for simple ouillage (the final top-up of wine). It also does away with the necessity of stopping and starting the racking to avoid the build-up of fumes.
Latorse has been working on the prototype for two years, and has just put the machine on general sale. Several cru classés are reported to be interested.
The Latorse machine has just won a bronze medal, to be awarded at next month’s Vinitech exhibition.
Latorse told decanter.com, ‘No one wanted to invest in this idea when I was developing it, now they all do.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux