One of the largest producers in the region with over 6.6 million bottles in sparkling wine sales last year alone, their factory is huge, but still rooted in tradition.
Wine destined to become Blanquette méthode Ancestrale undergoes its primary fermentation in concrete tanks, unlike their more modern counterparts Blanquette or Crémant de Limoux which are vinified in...
Stainless Steel Tanks
...stainless steel tanks. As with Champagne, the primary fermentation is relatively short and high temperature with no malolactic fermentation. More flavor development takes place during secondary fermentation in the bottle.
I couldn't help thinking that this huge fermentation warehouse would make a great set for a video game.
Wine making is serious business and at Sieur D'Arques, bottles are carefully analyzed to determine the ratios of various fermentation by-products. The method is constantly being fine-tuned by the winemakers to push their products towards a more desirable end result.
Samples Ready for Screening
Samples are analyzed and tasted on a regular basis.
The yeast added to the wine prior to secondary fermentation is bred in large stainless steel containers.
The lees at the stopped end of a bottle of Crémant.
The spent yeast is traditionally removed by rapidly opening the bottle upside down, allowing just the lees to pop out, then quickly re-capping it. These days, this disgorgement is done by machine. Here a giant robotic arm picks up bottles 100 at a time and dips their tops into a liquid nitrogen solution, creating a frozen ice plug right at the stopper.
Bottles Ready to Disgorge
You can see the block of frozen Crémant at the top of the bottle with the lees trapped inside it.
Stir it up!
The sugar and wine added during dosage needs to be well-mixed. This machine rotates the bottles a few times to ensure a thorough homogenization.
A giant corkscrew pushes the bottles along at the Antech factory before the bottles get their final foil covering.
Sponge-like fingers apply labels.
In the Warehouse
Antech's gigantic warehouse has pallets of wine destined for sale all over the globe.