Wine in part Oak and part Concrete Egg???

So in doing some research on a 2013 Pinot Noir that Is scheduled delivery from Sonoma County this fall, one reviewer stated the majority of the wine sat in 55% new French oak and part in concrete egg. I did some research on the concrete egg but welcome any additional insight on fermenting (assume it’s fermenting) wine in concrete egg.

You wouldn’t do the primary fermentation in new French oak – only malolactic fermentation and/or aging. So I would guess it aged in and/or did malo in the egg. In that case, it would be like putting 55% in stainless steel or a big, neutral oak cask.

Sure they do primary fermentation in oak, just saw whole berries going into oak for fermentation at Quintessa last week.

The reason for egg use I’ve been told is it enables some small air exchange like oak because it’s semiporus and it can add a note of minerality.

I’ve fermented Petit Verdot in 225L barrels.

Into barriques or large wood tanks? The tasting notes on Quintessa’s website say “After fermentation with native yeasts and extended maceration in stainless steel, French oak and concrete tanks, the wines are aged in French oak barrels in the caves.”

But in new French barrels? How do you deal with the cap? Would you ferment in a 225 liter barrel if you had more than a very small quantity of wine?

In any event, since the original post says “the majority of the wine sat in 55% new French oak and part in concrete egg,” so I assume this refers to aging, not fermentation.

Several wineries like Alpha Omega make extensive use of barrel fermentation for reds. AO uses barrels turned upright with one head removed. There are some videos out there of them doing punch downs on dozens of barrels all lined up in a row.

Interesting. What’s the point? To get more oak flavor? And are they new barrels or old, neutral ones?

Yep, as others have mentioned, many wineries use barrels for red fermentations. Some of these are ‘custom’ barrels created with no top head and usually a plexiglass or something similar ‘cover’ so that one can easily access the cap. Many other winemakers ‘wing it’ by taking the head off of an older barrel - oftentimes larger format puncheons - and use this to ferment in. Many feel that they get better integrated oak using this method . . .

One certainly can ferment in concrete eggs as well - has been done for a long time. Many winemakers use these and other concrete vessels to either ferment or age or both in. Concrete is more porous than stainless and less than oak so wines will develop ‘differently’ in them than the other two. That said, I am still waiting for ‘studies’ or a series of blind side by sides to show me that concrete leads to a more ‘minerally’ wine as so many wineries suggest . . .


They were your typical wine barrels. I asked why they had barrels out on the crush pad. Next thing you know they were diverting berries from the sorting belt right into them. Brand new yes, to get more oak flavor.

I learned something today. I knew that people fermented in the eggs, but didn’t know they used barriques, let alone new ones.

I’m still not sure that’s what the original post was about, though!

While not common, micro-vinification, making the wine in barrel takes place at several estates in Bordeaux today. Le Gay and La Violette in Pomerol have been making 100% their wine like this for a few year. Other estates, like Bon Pasteur, Fonplegade for example, produce a portion of their wine entirely in barrel.

This barrel fermentation of reds in barrel has been going on for a long time. You can buy barrels with ‘portholes’ so the barrels are easier to fill and empty. There are all kinds of variations on the theme.

I tend to think of concrete eggs as something for sauvignon blanc, but a chacun son egout.

Article on barrel fermentation

Yes, new barrels as well as used ones. They had small removable ports on the heads (8-10 inch diameter) where we filled them and then put the ‘door’ back on. Instead of punchdowns or pumpovers we had the barrels on rollers on their sides and rolled them several times a day.

It’s my understanding that the ‘milkshake’ quality you’d sometimes find in Aussie reds was due to new oak in the fermentor (in the case of aussie wines, it was usually/often alternate oak…but oak is oak). Not saying new oak during fermentation always results in ‘milkshake’, but imo it does affect the wine’s texture and can lead to that. Somewhat similar to how syrah that’s allowed to go through ML in a steel tank (or any non-oak vessel) and then put to barrel is different (and in my limited experience, better) than syrah that goes through ml in oak.

Steve Edmunds is a big fan of concrete tanks, and uses them for his GSM blend (rocks and gravel, or whatever the name will become)…possible others wines as well, not sure.

Well guys,

Sorry for my silence but since it has been a very compact harvest, I had to make wine. I love seeing debates about all this and even for the ones are not fans of the wines. Let me correct a few things with some facts. Yes we do indeed use barrel fermentation up right, I was the first to do that starting already in 2001 as a trial at Newton. It works quite well to integrate tannins and oak. I started with about 3 barrels in 2001 and in 2016 I did 727 barrels for different clients.
Some discussion were about tannins and Napa sexy aspect, just so you know I had to work with the lab equipment company because they could not read the wines that I make because of the high number of tannins and anthocyanin. They said that we had more than ever seen in their data base. Which again does not say that the wines I make are better but for sure different.
If you want to come and discuss the fact that after 3 days in cold soak we are sometimes at levels up to 2100mg/l of tannins, that is for sure not a version of Blockbuster to me.
As usual I really love talking about it so if you are in the valley reach out and lets taste together

Many French winemakers use concrete tanks for fermentation. The word ‘egg’ somehow turns the issue into something almost mystical.

It reminds me of one year at the IPNC. At the salmon bake somebody opened a Viognier from Lodi that was fermented in a concrete egg. Several wine writers just about swooned over the notion. I wanted to ask whether Lodi was the proper place for Viognier, or was it Albarino?, but the incense was too strong.