Cantine Lenotti

The Latest Technologies in Wine Production

THE ROLE OF OXYGEN AND SULPHUR DIOXIDE IN WINE

Grapes and must need a certain amount of oxygen. It is an indispensable element for the life of biological microflora which transform the natural sugars into alcohol. Once the primary and, subsequently, secondary fermentation processes have taken place, oxygen however becomes an enemy and jeopardises the outcome of the wine. Wine is, in fact, an organic food substance capable of altering biologically and it is easily oxidised. During the phases of preservation, ageing and bottling it is therefore extremely important to maintain the wine at very low oxygen levels and to use all the technology available for the development of a good wine.

The presence of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in wine has the following effects:

  • it acts as a preservative when present in large amounts, thereby impeding the development of bacteria;
  • it is anti-oxidising in so far as the presence of sulphur dioxide in wine blocks the oxygen, thus preventing the oxidisation of the wine itself.


The presence of sulphur dioxide at levels which exceed 100 mg. per litre does, however, pose health problems for the consumer (headache, stomach-ache, hyperacidity, alterations in the microbiological flora of the digestive system and other side effects). Our winery, always on the alert to these problems and ready to upgrade the quality of its products, has faced the situation with the view to: Maintaining the oxygen content in the wine as low as possible, thereby drastically reducing the quantities of sulphur dioxide necessary.

Research and analysis of the problem has been carried out using an avant-garde instrument (an oxygen dosing and measuring device) which very few wineries in Italy are equipped with. This instrument allows one to record the oxygen content at any given time during the various phases of production (whether in tanks, during filtration, cooling, on entering the filling vat or even in the bottle before and after it has been corked) and to follow through its evolution in the bottle over a period of time. This equipment is extremely reliable and sensitive and is able to register oxygen levels in parts per million (p.p.m.) and even in parts per billion (p.p.b.).

Technology we use in the production

Vinification of the grapes. The quantity of sulphur dioxide used has been greatly reduced: from 150 mg. per litre in the past to 50 mg per litre nowadays, using the following methods:

  • selection of particular yeasts for the vinification;
  • fermentation of clear musts;
  • careful control of the temperature during fermentation.


Preservation and ageing of wines with SO2 levels of 40-60 mg per litre and oxygen levels of 0,4-0,5 p.p.m using the following methods:

  • filtering and preserving of wines sterilised at a low temperature;
  • movement of wines in the various stages of vinification (decanting, filtering, cooling) with volumetric pumps, and compensation with inert gases from the tanks (mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide).


Bottling of wines sterilised by chilling: Nowadays the ready availability of sophisticated technology with computerised bottling machines allows one to control the various phases of vinification with extreme precision and reliability, thus guaranteeing perfect results. The bottling process is, in fact, one of the most important stages in determining the biological stability and future of a wine.

Wine is sterilised through the use of narrow filtering tubes which impede the movement of biological matter which could subsequently multiply in the bottle, thereby altering the composition of the wine itself. Sterilisation of the bottles and of the entire bottling line is of fundamental importance. We manage all this by daily applying a flowing steam heated to 120° C. to the bottle-sterilising machine, the bottle-filling machine and the filters.

The bottles are washed with sterilised water and the wine is filtered chilled using filters with membranes of 0.4 microns and sent directly to the bottle-filling machine where the filling takes place.

The filling and corking are then carried out with a special kind of technology (designed and custom built for us) which guarantees the total absence of oxygen in this delicate phase of vinification.

THE RESULTS
It is generally considered that a good wine is obtained by observing the following technological parameters: that the oxygen content in the wine be less than 2 p.p.m in the corked bottle, space at the neck of the bottle included. (Measuring takes place after the corked bottle has been turned upside-down for about two minutes so as to allow the absorption of oxygen in the space at the neck of the wine bottle).

We, however, claim that the optimum level for a wine to last in excellent condition is less than 1 p.p.m.

In the corked bottle, including the space at the neck, our wines register oxygen levels of 0.4-0.5 p.p.m. and free SO2 levels at 8-10 mg per litre, with a total SO2 content of 40-60 mg. per litre. This is possible as in our wines the oxygen content does not increase during the various stages of vinification and bottling. All this guarantees that our wines have a long life and manage to preserve their original and unique characteristics, all their primary aromas and full bouquets.

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Cantine Lenotti
Via S.Cristina, 1
- 37011 Bardolino - VR
Tel. +39 045 7210484 Fax. +39 045 6212744
P.Iva 02396340230
info@lenotti.com

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