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Temperature Control – Chateau Recougne, Bordeaux Superieur, 1993 harvest

Once the cellar was safe to enter we went in and got ready for the day ahead. The first job was to take the temperature of each tank, which was a good way to start the day as it required zero intelligence or physical effort. In most cellars these days it would be as simple as looking at the gleaming computer panels that display the precise temperature of each tank, but no, in my cellar there were no computers. The vats were cooled by wrapping a hose around the neck of the tank, and then puncturing the hose so that cold water trickled out. Very sophisticated…

That said, temperature control during fermentation is still done in remarkable ways in some parts of the world. In the Alentejo in Portugal there are still producers that use huge clay pots which they burry underground to keep the wine cool. In Canada some producers put tanks or bins on forklifts and move them outside at night to cool ferments down. And I’ve seen producers add large blocks of ice into a tank too – no names mentioned.

Of course temperature control has become such a critical metric in managing fermentations.

You can use cooling to cold soak must on arrival at the winery. You can keep ferments moving at a nice pace by preventing them from taking off and spiking in reds over 35 C which would likely result in a stuck fermentation. Of course in white wines it is even more important, especially for aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc done unoaked in tank. Cold temperatures can help preserve the vibrant youthful aromatics.