Ask Sid: Lees stirring

August 17th, 2016
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Lees stirring batonnage
By Agne27 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: What is the difference between the stirring of the lees that fall to the bottom of a wine cask and batonnage?

Answer: No difference. Batonnage is the French term used for this stirring of the fine lees that settle to the bottom of the container (usually a wooden cask) holding the unfinished unfiltered wine in progress. Some believe that this procedure helps produce richer wines. However there is a growing group of winemakers that feel this opening of the container with vigorous stirring of the juice promotes earlier oxidation (pre-mox issues) and is to be avoided. This concern has resulted in a third school of thinking which wants mixing of the lees but not with air exposure. They instead either roll the closed barrels (Bouchard Pere) or inject CO2 gas in by a tube to mix it up (Lucien Le Moine). This whole area of cellar procedures involving stirring of the lees (or batonnage) needs some new catchwords to accurately describe what is actually being done by the winemaker.


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August 17th, 2016

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