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Fairview experiments with roto-barrel

Published:  23 July, 2008

A South African producer has devised a new system for making wines with better fruit, colour and tannin.

Charles Back's Fairview wine estate in Paarl has created a roto-barrel system to improve better extraction during fermentation of its red wines.

A small manhole has been built into 15 five hundred litre French oak barrels. During the 2007 vintage the barrels sat on a specially-produced cradle which incorporated a set of castors to allow the barrels to be rotated twice a day during fermentation.

Punching down is still necessary and Anthony de Jager, a winemaker at Fairview, said: "It's quite an expensive technique and we've used it on our top-end Beacon Shiraz."

He added: "The wine is looking very promising at the moment. At first the extraction rate was very high but now there's better integration of tannin and expressive fruit."

This technique is a scaled-down version of stainless steel rotofermenters and accounted for less than 1% of Charles Back's 200,000 case annual production.

It will be released for sale in 2009/10.