What is an amphora? A Master of Wine Explains

What is an amphora? Why is wine made in an amphora? Master of Wine Bree Stock and Limited Addition winemaker Chad Stock explain why they like amphorae and describe those made by their friend Andrew Beckham in Oregon. They also explain the wines they are making in them at their winery.

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The amphorae that we work with are produced in Oregon by the Beckham family they are close friends of ours. Andrew Beckham is a professional ceramicist and also winemaker and he is the one that is building local Oregon made amphora and so this is an extra special treat for us because it’s the only producer of he’s the only producer of amphora in the United States and so to have these locally to be able to use with local fruit to produce wines in the Willamette Valley is a really extra special treat. (Bree Stock, MW) Yeah, amphora is a clay vessel of varying heights um it’s one of the most well it is the most ancient fermentation vessel. it dates back you know 8 000 bc and um well probably even older but there’s you know current knowledge of fermentation of of grapes in amphora from from that long ago and it’s a very sustainable fermentation vessel it’s capable of being reused many times it creates a very unique fermentation because of its shape which tends to be sort of egg-shaped with a narrower bottom. The wine in it actually has a different convection method than is what is typically found in your more modern traditional fermentation vessels and for us this gives a very um different feeling to the to the wine it’s a almost a polymerization of tannins a more approachable wine earlier in its life and because the amphorae are fairly thin walled the fermentation tends to be fairly cool and it doesn’t really overheat so that also helps to preserve a lot of the wines aromatics the natural grape aromatics in the wine without getting too over overcooked or over developed flavors because the fermentation never really gets too hot part of a you know a fermentation vessel spice mix if you will and we make a single amphora wine every year and for us each year that will change depending on the available grapes so we’ve made a pinot gris pinot noir fermentation in amphora we’ve made a pinot noir gamay noir trousseau noir co-fermentation in amphora and in 2021 we made a saint laurent blaufrankisch gruner veltliner co-fermentation in amphora so for us this is one of our wines where we’re continuing to explore the marriage between different grape varieties and this incredible vessel and we get to work with it from one of our friends

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