Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

A la cave

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I even set my mother and sister to work picking off snails last week

Snails and vandals aside there have been plenty of positives at Mas Coutelou in recent weeks, not least in the cellar. The beams in the photograph below have been strengthened with iron as some of the wood beams were no longer in contact with the wall!


Before the changes


We saw recently the removal of the large, old press which used to dominate the top end of the cellar next to the cement tanks. Jeff has also removed a huge fibre glass tank which took up a lot of space. 145 hectolitres in size, it was now redundant as Jeff prefers to use smaller tanks for fermentation and maturation. Incidentally 145hl is almost 20,000 bottles of wine!

The photograph shows the number of doors in the cement tanks which have been divided to allow smaller amounts of wine. These two empty spaces now leave much more room in the cellar for all the machinery needed, during the vendanges for example. Jeff told me that the cellar had taken shape in 1956 so these are the first major changes in 60 years.


The floor has also been renovated with drains updated too. The surface you see in the photos from last week will be covered with resin, more practical in a wine cellar.

One of the more popular cuvées has also been the focus of work. Bibonade is a sparkling wine, white and rosé. This PetNat style is very refreshing but requires work just as any sparkling wine.


The fermentation in the bottle creates some residue which needs to be removed. The residue can be seen in the neck of the bottle as they are placed in these wooden frames known as pupitres (desks). Once the lees have gathered next to the capsule the bottle is opened so that they explode out with the force of the carbon dioxide made from fermentation. The bottle is then topped up and resealed.

Definitely a cuvée to enjoy, my wife’s favourite Coutelou wine for example.


Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

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