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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

A new technique for mechanically sorting ripe from unripe and rotten grapes has been pioneered by Philippe Bardet, owner of Chteaux Val d'Or (St Emilion Grand Cru) and Picoron (Ctes de Castillon), and one of two suppliers for Yvon Mau's top Bordeaux cuve Exigence. According to Richard Bampfield MW, a consultant to Yvon Mau, the machine, dubbed the Trie Baies', represents a major advance, especially for machine-harvested fruit, and a partial solution to what is still one of the perennial problems facing producers in marginal climates. The machine, which Bardet has been developing with a friend over the past four years, and which he hopes to patent, works on the principle of densimetry, which is already applied extensively in other agribusiness sectors. Grapes are placed into a bath of their own must. The ripe and rotten sink, while the unripe float. The ripe are drawn off by a vacuum from the bottom of the tank, while the rotten stick to a rotating drum.