The shape and noble material are meant to underscore and bring out the best in the premium-class beverage and lend a decorative touch to Bodegas
To produce a good wine is a science all its own. And part of the science is the keg in which the wine ages. Traditionally kegs were made of wood, more recently of stainless steel or other more modern materials. But along comes a completely new idea as a wine receptacle. The idea originated in northern Spain’s Region of Galicia: why not make kegs of local granite?
The producer of the novelty is Ànforum Company, whose name is derived from the classical amphora. Other companies contributed with craftsmanship skills and in-depth knowledge of natural stone, winemaking, and restaurants.
„Ànforum is a return to the past with the latest technology” is how Technician in Chief Fernando García describes the concept. The idea is patented.
The concept is based on nature itself. Galician mineral water has a special flavor because it is filtered through cracks in the rock of the local mountains before it reaches the pool from where it is ultimately drawn.
Ànforum’s granite kegs, what with their 10 cm-thick stone walls, fulfil two functions: the pores in the stone provide the air a good wine needs to breathe and age well.
Photos show that the exterior of the kegs is damp – but the wine itself does not seep out. There seems to be an exchange of H2O molecules through the walls.
The egg-shape generates a spiral circulation downward allowing the sediment to constantly remix with the rest of the liquid.
The first batch has been resting in its test keg since November 2017. A first tasting is impatiently awaited and is scheduled to take place within the next few days. It will be the litmus test and will divulge whether the granite receptacle gave off a mineral flavor.
In the case of wooden kegs, the choice of wood type is an open secret for ageing good wines. We recently reported on Dutch stone-beer where chunks of hot granite are placed in the beer for flavor.
Of course, Ànforum only fills premium wines into their kegs. After all, the keg on the photo contains 450 l, and comes with a wholesale price tag of 7,800.00 €. But, as we know, the presentation effects the subjective taste. It is conceivable that a wine-tasting institution, such as the bodega sometimes is, would set up a number of granite kegs.
Seven models are currently being produced in sizes from 425 l to 2690 l. The 450-l keg shown on the photo weighs 1730 kg. It comes with a granite table on which it stands. The table itself is 60 cm high. In total the wine-storage facility towers 140 cm at and measures 1 m in diameter.
Kegs are machine manufactured on the exterior. The interior must be finished by hand. Finally, the bottom of the keg is glued to the receptacle.
And when the keg is empty?
The granite egg is rinsed out with clean water, as is the case with wooden kegs. No chemicals are used, warns Fernando García: in the case of sedimentary deposits „You cannot clean all the remains, you can sand the surface using a commercial coarse grain sandpaper and after that clean again with hot water.”
But the trick is to keep the surface active: through sanding „the internal wall of the barrel is, reactivated’ allowing the wine to acquire a fresh mineralization contacting with a, new layer of stone”.
Working with Ànforum: Epetrum, Caetano Otero Asesoría Enológica and Bodegas Santiago Roma.
(13.05.2018, USA: 05.13.2018)