Successful tests in Germany follow after Australia
In 2017/18, Schütz cooperated in the testing of the Wine-Store-Age IBC with the Department of Oenology at the globally renowned University of Geisenheim in the Rheingau region. A series of tests carried out there with selected Rheingau Rieslings, blended and matured in this container, were highly successful. As well as the excellent production results, this special IBC for winegrowers and wineries has another key further advantage: compared to conventional containers widely used in wine production, winegrowers save storage space thanks to the geometry of the IBC. This is an important consideration for traditional vintners located in established wine-growing areas where space is at a premium. Additionally, the IBCs make logistics easier and reduce costs along the producer’s supply chain.
Five wine-growing regions – nine vineyards – over 20 wines tested
Last year before the grape harvest in autumn, Schütz sent out a mailing to German and Austrian winegrowers last year, asking the decisive question: “Ripe for a new solution?” The globally operating packaging company invited the winegrowers to take part in an IBC test for the 2018 production. The aim of the campaign was to gain a closer understanding of the practical needs of winegrowers and also to hear their views on the container. A large number of innovative winegrowers who were keen to experiment took up the challenge and applied. After an exceptionally early harvest in autumn 2018, the nine selected businesses started blending and maturing batches of what promises to be the “vintage of the century” thanks to an exceptionally hot summer in many wine regions.
The project managers at Schütz in Selters now have most of the results of the practical production tests with the Schütz Wine-Store-Age IBC. Other reports, including one from Austria, are eagerly awaited. All the reports and assessments submitted so far by the wine producers have been more than satisfactory. Over 20 wines were tested in the IBC Wine-Store-Age trial, and all have been bottled and are on sale.
The test rating from the Palatinate region: highly satisfied!
Jochen Kreutzenberger from the wine estate Weingut Kreutzenberger in Kindenheim in the Palatinate, one of the largest German wine-growing regions, produced two wines in two variants as a comparative test in the Wine Store Age IBC: a 2018 Kindenheimer Sonnenberg Rivaner with 78° Oechsle and a 2018 Kindenheimer Grafenstück Grüner Silvaner with 83° Oechsle. The Rivaner, harvested on 4 September 2018, was fermented in a stainless steel tank, but without cooling towards the end, as the wine was to be matured to produce a dry wine. Shortly after fermentation, the young wine was drawn off, leaving a clear sediment of fine yeast. Part of the 6,000-litre batch was filled into a stainless steel tank, two batches of 1,000 litres each were stored in the special Schütz Wine-Store-Age IBCs with permeation protection. The use of two separate IBCs was to ensure that the batches could be counter-checked to provide very precise results. The first comparative samples taken from the three tanks during storage showed no significant differences. During maturation, Kreutzenberger already noticed that “since the Rivaner is a light, fruity summer wine with a strong primary aroma, differences in development could be determined quite quickly. But because it will not be bottled until spring, we can accompany this wine for even longer and compare it again.” All three variants were compared with each other in a blind bench test conducted by the winegrower and a qualified oenologist: “There was hardly any difference – we were both very satisfied! To our great surprise, the levels of SO2 (sulphurous acid) in the stainless steel tank and in the Wine-Store-Age IBC were practically identical at around 65 milligrams of free SO2.”
Excellent sensory characteristics and test results
The Silvaner had already been harvested on 17 September 2018 and fermented in a stainless steel tank after yeast addition. After eight days, fermentation was stopped at a residual sugar content of 22.7 grams/litre. As with the Rivaner, Kreutzenberger had also drew off this wine shortly after the end of fermentation, with 1,000 litres being filled in the Schütz Wine-Store-Age IBC and a second batch being used to fill a small high-grade steel container. The second SO2 check shortly before bottling on 14 November 2018 showed no difference, and both variants had the same clean sensory characteristics. “In the state Qualitätswein test to determine the quality it was given a highly satisfactory rating of 2.78 points, which is very good, considering that this is a basic wine and a wine needs 1.5 points to pass the test”, said Kreutzenberger. His conclusion: "My feedback to the Schütz team is positive! I am pleasantly surprised that everything worked so well. In my opinion, there is absolutely no application restriction for the way we used the containers.” On his estate, the Palatinate winegrower prefers to use the IBCs in autumn when small part batches are drawn off a large container in order to halt fermentation. Intermediate storage in the IBC is ideal at this stage of the production process, as it also saves space. He also believes that the IBCs will be useful for small wine estates that have their wine bottled externally by contract bottlers. In these cases, the wine is has to be drawn off the lees approximately one week before the filling date. A few days before the wine is filled it is stabilised by adding “Meta tartaric acid” or CMC to prevent tartar crystallisation.
By participating in the Schütz trial, Jochen Kreutzenberger is following in the footsteps of his grandfather Emil, who built the winery in the avant-garde Bauhaus style: both men share a commitment to tradition, but also have the courage to break new ground. The family estate in Kindenheim in the Palatinate has a remarkable history: the Kreutzenberger family are first mentioned in the records in 1438. The family’s present vineyards are situated in the best locations of Kindenheim and Bockenheim and they sell their wines successfully nationally and internationally.