Ideal for wine production: the Wine-Store-Age IBC
A key aspect of the test series started by Schütz with the Wine-Store-Age IBC is that this container is a model from the Schütz Foodcert line which is certified in accordance with the very highest industrial standard for foods, FSSC 22000. It has an EVOH permeation barrier that prevents oxygen, nitrogen and other gases from permeating in and out of the container. This allows the exposure of the contents to oxygen to be precisely controlled, making the Wine-Store-Age IBC ideal for use during wine making, whether for must or mash fermentation, further maturation, subsequent ripening, storage or transport of grape must, young wine or finished wines. Three years ago, this was extensively trialled in a series of tests conducted by experts from the Australian Wine Research Institute on the red wine varieties grown in the region. In Germany the tests conducted in collaboration with the Institute for Oenology, at the highly respected University of Geisenheim, in 2016/17 with selected Rheingauer Riesling wines were very positive. As well as the excellent production results, this special IBC for winegrowers and wineries has another key advantage: compared to conventional containers, winegrowers save storage space, which is an important consideration for traditional winegrowers 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.
In order to gain a closer understanding of the practical needs of winegrowers and also to hear their views on the container, Schütz sent out a survey to German and Austrian winegrowers last year, asking the engaging 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. A large number of innovative winegrowers who were keen to experiment took up the challenge and applied. After an exceptionally early harvest, the selected businesses started blending and maturing batches of what promises to be the “vintage of the century” thanks to an exceptionally hot summer.
Test vineyard in the oldest wine-growing region in Germany
Naturally, a wide-ranging test like this had to include a vineyard in Germany’s famous Moselle region. Since the 19th century, the wines produced here have been among the most acclaimed and prized in the world. The Romans had already determined that this area was perfect for growing wine, and today many highly dedicated winegrowers continue this great wine-growing tradition. Under difficult conditions and with a great deal of manual labour, they work the region’s steeply terraced, very curved and precipitous slopes to produce the unique Moselle wines. One of the regional factors that contributes to the typical characteristics of Moselle wine is the slate in the soil that stores the heat during the day, releases it again at night and adds a unique mineral taste to the wine. The river also regulates the climate of the surrounding area.
The test wine selected by Martin Heiden of Weingut Heiden in Brauneberg, was – unsurprisingly for the Moselle region – a Riesling. The traditional vineyard chose a 2018 Brauneberger Klostergarten, which was to be matured to produce a dry, fruity white wine for its customers. The long-established winegrower specialises in fine sparkling wines and regularly receives awards for its products; the main varieties it grows are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. The winery is committed to producing the very best quality, aiming to unite the best of tradition and modernity – something that Heiden has in common with packaging expert Schütz, which also operates according to this maxim. The winegrower, a member of the “Partnerbetrieb Naturschutz des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz” – an initiative set up by the state of Rhineland Palatinate to provide conservation advice for farmers, is committed to excellence, and this dedication is visible in both the vineyard and in the wine cellar; Heider’s vision for quality also includes environmentally friendly production and management of the vineyards and soil.
Heiden had all the conditions required for the Schütz test: the best and healthiest grapes, ideal for a fresh, high quality dry wine. The grape harvest took place on 23 September 2018 in dry and cool weather and yielded 3,000 litres of Riesling must. Immediately after pressing, 1,000 litres were transferred to the Wine Store Age IBC for clarification by sedimentation. The remaining 2,000 litres were poured into a typical Moselle oak barrel and a stainless steel tank respectively to provide comparative samples.
Wine matured in the IBC: “excellent” sensory characteristics and a pronounced fruity note
Heiden describes the clarification process as “exciting”: In the oak barrel, the racking took place after only 12 hours (completely clear wine), in the Schütz IBC after 24 hours (also completely clear). In the same period of time, the stainless steel tank showed an inferior clarification result than the IBC. Heiden says: “The wine was a super-fast fermenter. We intervened for two days, using cooling technology to slow down fermentation. As a small family winery, we work by hand and without continuous laboratory monitoring of the wines. We followed the fermentation process using a fermentation curve and only recorded the exact analytical values once the target state had been reached. These values were almost identical for all three samples.” Heiden found no significant differences between the different containers during the fermentation process, and rated the results as very good. The wines were sampled several times in a blind tasting. In the end, the wine fermented in the IBC won against the oak barrel because it had a more pronounced fruity note, which was favoured by all testers.
Heiden: “We are very positively surprised by the Schütz Wine-Store-Age IBC. We particularly liked the easy handling, which is so much easier than a stainless steel tank. Furthermore, there is the quick and hygienic cleaning, which was 25 minutes faster than the wooden barrels. In this context, the large tank cap opening is a great advantage.” In addition to the Riesling, Heiden also used the IBC to clarify twelve other batches, with very good results each time. The Mosel winegrower is more than satisfied with the results: “This has been a supremely interesting experiment. In future, I will be using this type of IBC more often!”