Vats are used to mature the wine after it has fermented, until it is bottled. They are made of different materials and their capacity varies.
Vats made of stainless steel, cement or ordinary steel have longer lifetimes and are easier to maintain. They are used for short-term vinification and their neutral composition allows all the fruity aromas of the wine to be preserved.
Wooden vats are known by various names: barrels, casks, kegs or puncheons. Casks have limited capacity – about 225 litres – and they can only be kept for three or four years. A barrel is made from an assembly of thicker woods so as to extend its lifetime, while a keg usually has a large capacity of 1,000 to 15,000 litres. Wooden vats are greatly appreciated for the vinification of red grape varieties. They allow the wine to breathe, thereby encouraging it to mature. The wine becomes impregnated with the deep vanilla aromas of the wood over several months, giving it an intense feel in the mouth.