The Vignerons de Tutiac cooperative is one of the most dynamic companies in Bordeaux, and its continued efforts to improve quality certainly pay off. Since its foundation, the company has constantly updated its equipment by investing in state-of-the art technologies and placing quality at the heart of the production processes. The acquisition of a NomaSense O2 to monitor oxygen levels at different stages of the production process is an integral part of this approach.
The analyser enables the group to reach the objectives it sets itself in the area of control: checking the quality of practices in cellars and packaging and ensuring correct levels of oxygen in line with the requirements of certain clients.
Guaranteeing oxygen levels in bottles in line with clients’ requirements
Some of our clients have strict requirements in this respect, particularly for Bag-in-Box®. Their specifications require total oxygen levels of an average of 5 mg/L 3,500 hectolitres in BIB packaging, mainly for red wines, from one of our production sites. We need to guarantee the shelf life of our products, set at three months. Thanks to the NomaSense O2, we carry out regular checks on BIB bottling. This means that we can verify that the total oxygen input is around 5 mg/L on average, which also allows us to justify the conformity of our process
These are supplemented by checks on dissolved oxygen and free SO2 at 3 months to ensure that losses of free SO2 are in line with the target set, i.e. a reduction of between 10 mg/L and 15 mg/L in relation to the initial concentration of wines at BIB, set at 35 mg/L. These regular checks also highlight the variability of the evolution of wines in BIB after bottling, depending on the bags used. This has helped Les Vignerons de Tutiac to work with their suppliers to improve the quality of the bags.
Monitoring the quality of the process in the bottling plant
As well as responding to clients’ requirements, the cooperative applies regular in-house checks to ensure the quality of its bottling. The latest equipment in the plant bottles thousands of hectolitres produced by the cooperative, but it can also provide bottling on a one-off basis.
That is the threshold set. The machines are recent and the vat room of the bottling plant works exclusively with a nitrogen generator, so we have no concerns about reaching the set threshold. Where we can improve over the next few years is in the integration of oxygen analysis as tool for auditing the performance of the bottling lines. We aim to set up checks to monitor all the dispensing and capping heads on each line, to obtain greater accuracy in analysis performance than at present.
Monitoring the quality of practices in the cellar
The NomaSense O2 is also used to check the quality of practices in the winery. The aim is to carry out random checks on oxygen levels during the transfer of the wines, before and after stabilisation, before or after tanker transport, especially for sulphite-free wines produced by the winery since 2019. “The threshold set is a maximum enrichment of 0.5 mg/L of dissolved oxygen in any wine transfer, or any other operation requiring a transfer. I perform unannounced checks in the winery to ensure consistent quality. These oxygen checks are incorporated into the quality bonus that wine merchants receive every year, says Ms. Costa-Prezeau. This approach yields good results, because the results are there to see.