Ageing wine in Burgundy

Burgundy is home to myriad specificities and one of them is the way its wines are matured and aged. A key stage in the life of the wine, maturation and ageing techniques in Burgundy play a pivotal role in ensuring the wines age well. Both the techniques and materials used are

specific to the region. We lift the lid on how Burgundy is matured and aged.

Maturation, a key stage in the life of Burgundy wine

In Burgundy, every wine (red, white and crémant) undergoes a maturation phase.

This stage, between winemaking and bottling, has a direct impact on how the wine ages and therefore on the quality of the end product.

Maturing the wine involves three successive procedures:

1. Topping up. The wine is stored in barrels, where part of it will subsequently evaporate. This is what winegrowers like to refer to as the angels’ share. To compensate for the drop in the level – the ullage – and prevent the wine from oxidising on the surface, they regularly add wine to the barrel;

2. Racking. This is used to separate the wine from the lees but also to add oxygen to it. Wines can be racked several times. The winemaker decides how many times the wine needs to be racked to produce the desired aromas;

3. Stirring of the lees. This procedure is not carried out in all Burgundy vineyards. When it is done, the wine is stirred two to four times a month so that all the wine comes into contact with the lees.

The specificities of ageing Burgundy

Ageing in Burgundy is considered to be a crucial stage as it adds the finishing touches to a wine’s aromas.

It can last up to 24 months for red Burgundy.

In Burgundy, the wine is aged in oak barrels called ‘pièces’ by Burgundy winegrowers. With a capacity of 228 litres, these are the barrels that give the wine its oaky notes.

The wine can also be aged in tanks, a method which allows the wine to retain a measure of freshness. Tank ageing is often used for wines designed to be drunk in the first few years after bottling.

The choice of container for ageing the wine therefore depends on what the winemaker is aiming to achieve in terms of style.

Just after ageing comes the bottling stage. At this point, the wine has not quite finished ageing and it will continue to evolve. This is why cork closures are very widespread in Burgundy, because their porosity makes them a very worthwhile ally for the wines to continue to age in the bottle. Winegrowers in Burgundy are extremely attentive to the ageing phase because this is when they can have an influence on the aromas the wines will exude when tasted. Regardless of whether they are barrel or tank-aged, Burgundy wines are extremely popular with consumers