In some years, pre-fermentation maceration is carried out. Yeast is indigenous. Alcoholic fermentation lasts four to six days, pumping over both with and without oxygen. Post-fermentation vatting takes place at 30 degrees for six days, and then the juice is pressed and run off in separate lots.
From 2003 to today, Chateau La Lagune started using 55 percent new barrels from the best oak-producing regions to barrel-age their wines, which gives the wines structure as well as complexity and toasty, vanilla overtones. Now the Chateau uses medium-toasted barrels (degrees of toasting, or charring, the interior of the wine barrel is an important factor for winemakers who want to achieve a certain style), but may evolve toward medium plus in the future. The remaining 45 percent of the wine is aged in barrels that have been used for one previous vintage.
Barrel aging lasts 15-18 months, with the glass bungs on top for the first six months and topping up several times a week; then the barrels are turned with the bung on the side. The wine is racked every three months, and fined with egg whites before bottling.
I’m a bit incredulous when we peer into the bottling room. It is such a small and simple operation. Several young women run the labeling machine. At the end, a man gently puts the wine into cedar-scented wood boxes with the Chateau La Lagune insignia. Without much of a stretch, one can well imagine a similar type of operation before the machine age.
The tasting room is gorgeous and modern, yet with ancient touches. The walls are limestone brick, and art is somewhat Mediterranean in theme. The two bottles of wine sitting on the table grab my attention at once. We taste a 2004 and 2005, both excellent but quite young with at least ten years of bottle aging in their future. Yet already, the wine has good red fruit and hints of violet, lavender, lilac, plum, smoke, and vanilla that will develop into a fine wine for a celebratory occasion that has yet to occur.
For more information, visit Bordeaux.