At Bigibila we believe that quality wines are made in the vineyard. We practice low impact, sustainable winemaking that enhances the quality and flavours of the fruit rather than making any attempt to change or dominate the fruit characteristics. After all, great vines make great wines!
We are proud of making wines with integrity and honesty, so we want to share the innovations that are shaping our winemaking.
Cooperage has little changed since the introduction of barrels in the 18th Century, whilst farming techniques, production methods and flavour profiles have evolved.
So, we’ve moved on from barrels. We ferment and store our wine in Flexcubes.
What are Flexcubes?
Defining themselves as “New Generation Barrels,” Flexcube have taken the core tenets of wine production (allowing wine to breath, giving it contact to oak, monitoring the chemistry) and created a barrel that allows total and consistent control of the wine.
Flexcubes are large containers made of food-grade thermoplastic polymers that are completely BPA & pthalthate free.
They remain consistently breathable during their lifespan. Extensive research has shown that the kinetic chemistry of fermenting wine is exactly the same as that of a traditional barrel. Or, in plain English, there’s no difference in the fermentation process or end product.
This means that we are able to exactly recreate wines again and again, without leaving anything to chance. It’s a scientific approach to creating the organic enjoyment of a great wine.
Plus, Flexcubes holding the same volume of wine take up about half the floor space of traditional oak barrels. The space efficiency savings create more room for us to produce the distinctive Pyrenees wines we are so proud of.
There’s still the same contact to oak
Whilst the cubes are made of polyethelene, there’s absolutely no plastic taint to the flavour of the wine.
Wooden ‘staves’ inserted into the cube provide the same fermentation chemical reaction that creates the earthy and rounded oak flavours of many of your favourite wines.
Wine will only permeate the wood of a barrel or stave by a couple of millimetres. We use both French and American Oak staves, which average 50mm wide and 5 mm thick. As the stave is suspended in the wine, the wine has surface contact with both sides of the stave. This means that minimal oak is left untouched by the wine, maximising the flavour profiles that a single piece of wood can create.
Because we need such a small amount of oak, we can use a finer grade and higher quality of wood. This means our wines have been in contact with and retained the flavours of the finest oak available; a wood well above the price point that our wines would have seen in traditional barrels.
Unlike a wine barrel, which ends up as a rustic, but expensive, flowerpot at the end of its life (normally around 3 years, or two-three vintages), wooden staves can be replaced, whilst the Flexcube can be cleaned and reused afresh.
Our used staves, saturated in Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (to name a few!) are then used to flavour our homemade barbequed and smoked meats.
The flavours created in the oak barrel and Flexcube are the same, but the Flexcube uses a lot less oak, reducing our environmental footprint.
Using Flexcube doesn’t impact the taste of the wine…
Whilst the gradual switch from cork to screw cap bottles caused a great upset amongst wine communities, over time the innovative technology has become commonplace.
We strongly believe that by using innovative cooperage methods that are redefining what barrel-aged wine is, we’re ensuring the continued excellence of our wine for generations to come.
Using Flexcubes is a lot more manageable both in terms of controlling the flavours of the wine, and controlling the movements of the barrel. A thousand-litre cube holds the equivalent volume of four traditional barrels, so it is easier and quicker to perform winemaking tasks such as topping up and racking off. Flexcubes filled to capacity can be transported safely and without any mess.
… But does have a positive impact on the environment
The impact on the environment is really where it stands out.
Flexcube barrels last many times as long as the pricier oak barrels, and need much less wood to create the same flavour profile. This dramatically reduces our wood consumption.
The consistency in flavour allows us to savour every drop. This ensures that all the energy expended in the making process goes into a bottle of one of our full-bodied reds.
It might not be traditional, but with wines as modern as ours why would we live in the past when there is a better, more sustainable way?