Preparing the red wines for maturing at Chateaux Cailley

This operation consists in clarifying and putting the final touch to the wines before they are bottled – for the wines that are to be aged, or preparation for the sale of the wine in bulk for those wines that are to be drunk early.

This step is particularly influenced by trends in wine drinking or market constraints, in particular with regard to large scale distribution for supermarket chains.

If we accept that the consumer is

  • Looking for simple, very basic flavours in a wine, like vanilla or woody notes 
  • Looking for easy-drinking wines without any false notes, no sediment or other minor imperfections
  • Only interested in the cheaper wines and that good wines are automatically expensive. 


 If the only winemaking criteria is to comply with the above, it will result in the wine becoming a neutral tasting, standardised product, without any specific character. The wines are filtered prematurely and by doing this most of the more interesting aromatic qualities are removed. The wines are also treated so that they remain stable and will not be altered by the bad storage conditions that the large scale distribution implies. The maturation period has a more  important meaning to us and marks the accomplishment of a long, natural process. It begins with the blending in January and ends from 6 to 18 months later when the wine is bottled. Here again we have chosen simplicity and do not go along with wine drinking fashions: we refuse to age all of our wines systematically in oak. We also believe in clarifying slowly, in the traditional way, to protect the wine’s precious aromas.

 The choice of material : no systematic use of oak

This way of working means that the wines conserve the freshness and complexity of the fruit. The wines are matured in stainless steel tanks. The universal trend of ‘oaking’ the wine by either ageing them in 300L oak barrels or by adding oak chips to the wine leave the wine with the same uniformity of structure and flavours.

We believe strongly in preserving the originality of the ‘terroir’. As the wines are exposed differently to oxygen they tend to be more finely structured, are lighter, with more elegance.

Only the wines that are made from the oldest vinestocks, more than 25 years old, that are very concentrated and powerful in flavour are aged in600 LitreFrench Oak casks.

The choice of taking time.

Maturing, means clarifying and finishing the wine and taking time to do so. In this way, the tannin and aromas can develop naturally by exposing the wine a few times to the air. This will also improve the limpidity and brightness of the wine prior to bottling.

Depending on whether a particular wine is to be drunk young or to be aged for drinking later the maturation will either take 6 months of 18-20 months.

- In the case of wines to be drunk young, with a short maturation cycle of about 6 months, the wines are filtered either through cellulose plates or by means of alimentary earth filters.

In this case the shelf life of the wines is relatively short.

- In the case of a longer maturation cycle of 18 months or more, the wines are clarified by successive decanting transferring the wine from one vat to another exposing it to the air for a short period and evacuation of any eventual sediment. The decanting process takes place in March, June, September and December. Then the wines are ‘fined’ meaning that they are clarified by using egg white, then decanted once again in February and April. The molecules of the albumin (egg-white) fall to the bottom of the tank and in doing so they fix the particules of sediment present in suspension in the wine.

The wines that are bottled in April and May are filtered through cellulose plates. In this case the wines may be aged for a longer period. This fining period takes place slowly over a period of 1 to 1.5 months.
When this period is over the wines are bottled and stored in the cellars. The ageing process is now ready to begin, the length of which will depend on the vintage.  During this period the wines lose their acidity, the tannins soften and they become more harmonious.