Leithaberg DAC meets granite
So, where does granite enter the picture? Well, since the beginning of January we have a 1,100-litre capacity granite cask in our cellar, which was just filled with Chardonnay. The cask was quarried and carved out of a nine-ton block of granite, but still weighs an imposing 1,800 kilogrammes.
How is granite different from other materials? Contrary to what one might think, granite is not completely watertight. Its structure is indeed permeable, and most accurately comparable to a medium porous wooden cask – the temper of the stone is constant, and it enables an exchange of gases with the immediate environment. So we have put it in our cask cellar, since the high humidity there is conducive to a smooth maturing process.
What effect will this have upon the wine? A light & even micro-oxygenation will be realised by the air exchange, just like with a wooden cask. But in contrast to wood, the wine will not be influenced in terms of flavour – and there is no additional minerality added by the granite. While stainless steel serves to emphasise the primary fruit of a wine and an oak barrel renders the wine smoother and rounder, wines matured in a granite cask become more concentrated and robust. Plus, the minerality of the grapes themselves will be more strongly emphasized.
This cask plays a supporting role in our quest for technologies, materials and styles of vinification that accentuate the role that terroir plays in the character of our wines. It’s not a matter of chasing after trends or following the latest fashion – our experience with the natural stone cask should provide a further step toward the production of highly expressive and distinctive wines.
In June 2018, we will have a tasting of our Chardonnay in the various styles of élevage: stainless steel, oak cask and granite. Your personal invitation to this tasting will follow at a later date.
Text: Gerald Rouschal, Weinakademiker