Château du Retout's cellars were rebuilt and concrete tanks installed in the 1960s. In 1973, a new vat room was constructed equipped with stainless- steel vats. In 2020 this cellar will have been entirely refitted with new stainless-steel vats used solely for the vinification while the 1960 cellar will only be used for storage.
The grapes’ maturity is regularly monitored via analyses and tastings. As the harvest date approaches, the tasting becomes the main trigger for the harvest.
Our 4 grape varieties attain full maturity at different times. To harvest them at their optimal quality, we pick them by hand in three phases.
The precious grape juice is collected by a direct pressing as soon as the harvest arrives in the winery.
We harvest mechanically. In fact, in recent years, the technical advances in harvesting machines have been considerable. Our machines are very gentle on the grapes and can also sort them onboard. Each grape variety is harvested at perfect maturity.
In the winery, sorting by mechanical sorting table, then by hand, completes the selection process and sends only the finest grapes into the vinification vats.
Chronological harvesting of
the different grape varieties
Our vinification methods focus on respect for the fruit.
Once the juices have cooled and settled, they are transferred into French oak barrels or terracotta amphorae for their alcoholic fermentation, which lasts between 2 to 4 weeks. Each grape variety is vinified separately.
The grapes are placed in sulphur-free vats, yeasted and cooled to between 5-8°C to undergo a 7-day pre-fermentation maceration. The grapes are then heated to 16°C to trigger the alcoholic fermentation process.
The yeast enables the transformation of sugar into alcohol. Twice a day, we carry out gravitational rack and return operations during the alcoholic fermentation. This method allows us to very carefully and gently extract the phenolic compounds. The fermentation phase lasts 7 days.
This technique replaces pumping over operations and involves completely emptying the vat of its juice and then reinjecting the juice back into the vat from the top, thereby submerging the cap of pomace. The grapes macerate in their fermentation vats for 4 weeks before their pressing to ensure that the wines are perfectly balanced.
The Ageing Process
Our white wines are aged without the addition of sulphur and remain on their lees with "bâtonnage" carried out twice a week until February. This bâtonnage imparts body and fat to the wines and allows them to go without sulphur for several months. Lees: the deposit at the bottom of barrels or vats Bâtonnage: stirring the lees into suspension
2 months after the grapes were harvested, our red wines are blended in readiness for their 12 months’ ageing in barrel. The barrels are carefully chosen each year from 9 different coopers. One third of the barrels are replaced every year. Over the year, the wine will have to be topped off from time to time and sulphited sparingly to prevent the wine from developing any faults. Topping off: process of refilling any wine that has evaporated from the barrel Sulphiting: adding sulphur
Having been the subject of constant and attentive care for the 17months since the harvest, the wines are now ready for bottling.
This is the final and crucial stage when we “seal” the vintage. We use the services of a specialised company which is able to guarantee that the two most important criteria for bottling - consistency and hygiene - are scrupulously respected. Vintage: year of harvest Cork quality is also of crucial importance. We therefore provide our cork suppliers with a strict set of specifications which allows us to significantly reduce the risk of “corked wines”.
The unlabelled bottles of wine are stored in metal crates in our temperature-controlled cellars. The bottles are washed, capsuled, labelled and packed into cases just before their shipment. We possess our own labelling equipment giving us greater autonomy and guaranteeing that our customers always receive a high-quality end product.