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Discover the Art of Ouillage: A Winemaking Tradition that Reveals the Wine's Character


The world of wine is full of fascinating traditions and artisanal practices that contribute to the creation of unique taste experiences. Although less well known to the general public, ouillage is one of the techniques that shape the character of quality wines.

What is ouillage?

Ouillage, from the French word "ouiller," refers to the action of topping up the level of wine lost in a barrel during ageing. This method aims to prevent oxidation of the wine by keeping the barrel completely full, thus preventing air from penetrating and altering the delicate aromas of the beverage.

Topping dates back to ancient times, when winegrowers were quick to understand the importance of preserving the quality of their precious nectar. The first references to "ouillage" date back to the Middle Ages in France, the cradle of viticulture. At the time, barrels were often transported over long distances, exposing the wine to a variety of climatic conditions. As a result, topping up became an essential practice for preserving the freshness and integrity of wines.

Topping is a delicate process that requires meticulous attention. When the level of wine in the barrel naturally drops due to evaporation or absorption by the wood, the winemaker carefully adds fresh wine from the same batch to keep the barrel at full capacity. This operation is repeated regularly throughout the ageing of the wine.


Filling, a real influence on the taste of wine

Topping has a significant impact on the wine's taste profile. As well as preventing oxidation, this technique helps to stabilise the wine by minimising temperature variations. As a result, the aromas develop more evenly, offering greater complexity and sensory richness.

Each wine-growing region has its own topping-up methods, influenced by climate, soil and local grape varieties. Some vineyards prefer to use smaller oak barrels, while others opt for stainless steel containers. So topping up is much more than just a technique: it's an art shaped by the surrounding nature.

Topping up remains an essential pillar in the world of wine, preserving the purity of flavours and contributing to the diversity of oenological expressions. Exploring this winemaking tradition reveals the importance of preserving the link between the winemaker, the wine and the land that nurtures it. The next time you enjoy a glass of wine, take a moment to appreciate the painstaking work that goes into every sip, because topping up is truly the art of sublimating this nectar. Here's to you!

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