The Barrel Cellar at Quinta do Crasto was totally renovated in 2013 and fitted with up-to-date equipment including the Oxoline®, Barrel Stacking System, which was being used in Portugal for the first time. Traditionally the oak barrels where the wine is aged are stacked horizontally in rows three or four layers high. With this new system, Quinta do Crasto has maintained the appearance of a traditional storage system while optimising the use of space. As many as six barrels can be stacked along the entire length of the cellar, which can now hold up to 1,611 barrels. On average the wine cellar stores 1,600 barrels.
In addition to optimising space, this enhancement has eased the mobility of the oak barrels. It is now possible to access and handle each one independently, which greatly simplifies the work in the cellar. No longer must all the containers be unstacked in order to get to one individual barrel. Individual rollers for each container enable it to be rotated so that lees stirring can take place without oxygen getting in.
This innovative system also allows for the racking, washing and refilling of each barrel without having to move it. The entire system is built of easily cleaned round tubes.
Another important improvement was the complete temperature and humidity control of the Barrel Cellar through the installation of an integrated system of temperature control and interior air circulation. Using an inverter, this system can either warm or cool the cellar air to ensure a stable temperature of 16ºC. The cellar is also equipped with a sprinkler system to keep relative humidity high and constant, around 80%, throughout the year. This reduces any evaporation from the barrels and subsequent loss. The system even enables the filtration and renovation of the cellar air volume every day and a half in order to prevent the growth of mould and to maintain the correct temperature.
The architecture of the Barrel Cellar was designed to enhance the correct ageing of the wines and to help maintain the ideal temperature and humidity. The exterior of the cellar is lined with schist and a roof garden has been planted to maintain the indoor temperature and humidity. The floor is coated with a multi-layered quartz epoxy resin which is highly resistant, without any rough edges, and it is slightly inclined to facilitate cleaning and subsequent drainage.
The Barrel Cellar houses 85% French oak and 15% American oak barrels. Quinta do Crasto sources its barrels from more than ten suppliers, so as to ensure the desired mix of characteristics, such as wood density or the interior toast of each one. These are key qualities that influence the aromatic style of the barrel and, thus, the aromas of the wine. Each barrel holds 225 litres and is used just two times. Later it is either recycled or sold to smaller wine producers. Each year Quinta do Crasto invests around 300,000 Euros on about four hundred new wooden barrels.
The winemaking team has at its disposal a wide range of options that they may combine together to craft the wine they intend to produce. Quinta do Crasto ages its wines for periods ranging from 6 months, as is Crasto Superior White, to 20 months, as is the case of the Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa. In summary, the Barrel Cellar at Quinta do Crasto has everything needed to meet the quality assurance and productive needs of its winemaking team.
Douro Crasto Superior range, Quinta do Crasto Reserva Vinhas Velhas, Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional, Quinta do Crasto Tinta Roriz, Quinta do Crasto Touriga Franca, Quinta do Crasto Vinha da Ponte and Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa all benefit from exceptional conditions that ensure the ideal barrel ageing.