Topping up wine barrels
wine making techniques

Società Agricola Le Buche srl

The toppings are very important cellar practices for the perfect success of a wine.
But what are they?

Riccardo Olivi, who personally takes care of these activities in the cellar explains this important work in detail.

Riccardo, what topping up means in Oenology?

“Topping up in the cellar indicates those operations aimed at mantaining wine containers always full of wine, particularly barrels and barriques. These are practices that are carried out not only once, but several times during the rest time of the wine before bottling.

Riccardo, can you tell us better why it is necessary to fill the wine barrels?

“You must know that during its maturation, especially in wooden barrels (but not only), the volume and level of the wine can undergo variations. Even minimal changes in temperature can lead to the evaporation of part of the liquid or to its contraction. Variations in temperature can also cause a slight expansion of the wooden container. The result is a greater exposure of the wine to oxygen. Moreover, whether the wine evaporates or whether the containers expand, the volume of wine in contact with the surface of the container decreases while the volume in contact with oxygen increases.

For this reason, all the containers that house the wine are filled up to their maximum capacity, precisely to reduce the oxygen-wine contact to a minimum. And for this reason, periodic topping up is carried out in the cellar, to compensate for any decrease in the level of wine in the barrel, bringing it back to the standard required for a "healthy" aging ".

How do the fillings take place?

"Usually two possible" techniques "are used.
The first, more artisanal, requires the same wine, stored in other containers, to be decanted into cask: this is the method we use for barriques. The second solution, adopted by most of the producers, is more mechanical and punctual: the use of the "filler cap" which is inserted into the hole of the barrel, as seen in the photo, the so-called "bunghole", and thanks to a special tank , containing the same wine, drops the liquid into the barrel, filling the container when necessary ".

Riccardo also reveals a curiosity:

"The invention of the glass filler cap (or bubbler) is attributed to the great Leonardo da Vinci, brilliant inventor, sublime artist and ... winemaker!"

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