MÈTODE GRAVETAT –
The opportunity to build a winery from the ground up is a rare pleasure. Especially when the time horizon is long, allowing all challenges to be pondered and addressed in advance. The fundamental winemaking concept at Can Axartell involves the integration of Mètode Gravetat, or the gravity method. Most estates employ pumps to move the must and young wine from one stage to the next. The winemakers at Can Axartell take a different approach, relying instead on the gentle natural forces of gravity to assist with all stages of processing, from receipt of the fruit at the winery to bottling. The vinification process takes place over several floors, with the wine moving solely by gravity, completely without pumps. The extra effort is rewarded with aromas that would otherwise be lost in the friction that arises during pumping.
So what does this process look like in practice? The handpicked grapes are delivered in 15 kg vats and remain for several hours in a cooling room to maintain the fruit’s freshness. A laser sorter is used to sort out a portion of the grapes; the rest are selected by hand. After a slow, gentle crush, the grapes are moved into the fermentation vat, where fermentation begins. Fruit for white and rosé wines is pressed using a special ultra-gentle technique developed by Willmes to ensure that the must is comprised solely of the juice of the grapes. In red wine, however, the mash ferments together with the grape skins and seeds. In standard commercial practice the wine is pumped several times over the course of this process, to break up the floating mass of skins and seeds known as the cap. In the cellars of Can Axartell, it isn't pumped at all. The juice and the mash are instead moved into a second container at regular intervals, lifted by crane and then re-filled into the fermenter. This swirls the pomace cap while distributing the flavors, pigments and phenols throughout the liquid. This manual process takes place 2-3 times per day over the entire fermentation period, which can last multiple weeks. Once the wine has finished fermenting, it is then gravity-fed into the maturation vessel. Finally, during bottling, the wine is moved with the help of gravity and nitrogen pressure.