Your ultimate guide to Amphora wines (and 4 of the best to buy right this minute)

Think of Amphoras and you’ll probably think about those old pots used in Ancient Greece or Rome overflowing with red wine.

Amphoras are indeed one of the oldest ways of making wine. And thanks to a resurgence of traditional winemaking processes especially in the organic, biodynamic and natural wine movement, they have become incredibly popular as vessels for making or ageing wine among some of the best winemakers in the world.

Here’s how it works - and four of our favourite amphora wines to try.


Amphora wines are exactly that - wines made in big clay pots

The wine can be either fermented or aged in pots that vary in size from small 250 to many thousands of litres. Some, like in Georgia, are buried in the ground, others stand to attention above.

The pots are usually conical in shape but nowadays are a little more technical than the amphoras of old, some with lids and some with taps or doors at the bottom for easier cleaning. But aside from that, they look very similar to what you would have found in ancient times.


Why clay?

Because it’s one of the best materials for winemaking.

The clay is porous which means the wine can micro-oxygenate, lending more open flavours than if the wine was aged in stainless steel. That could make a white wine more stone-fruit or nut-like. It could make a red more fruity or add flavours such as chocolate or dried fruits.

Then there’s the shape. The rounded shape keeps wine moving within the amphora which gives natural temperature control. This movement also lends more texture to a wine, or in the case of skin fermented wines, more extraction.


Amphora are a link to the past

The best winemakers across the world know how important it is to keep traditions alive in winemaking, and amphoras are a link to that history. They have been used for over 8000 years. They do a great job and lend such interesting flavours to wine, so why stop now?

It seems ancient civilizations were onto something.


Four of our favourite amphora wines from around Europe


Vino I Bianco Naturale, Sicily, Italy

Ancestrale farm their grapes on a tiny island just off Sicily. Their white wine is made with the local grape variety Malvasia di Lipari. Malvasia is a fantastic grape variety for skin contact wines, which is just as well because this wine has had around 3 months macerating in amphora.

The result is a deeply hued orange wine with flavours of figs, apricot and jasmine.


Cazebonne “Blanc de macération”, Bordeaux, France

Amphora wine in the middle of Bordeaux? Why not!

Innovative, passionate Cazebonne ferments half the grapes for this complex white wine into amphora where they ferment for around 12 days. This lends richness and texture to the finished wine which is filled with flambeed pineapple, roasted peach and orange blossom flavours.

Only a tiny amount of this wine is made each year and we’re delighted to stock them.


Cazebonne “Duo de Darche rouge” Bordeaux, France

Time in amphora gives this wine an elegance and brightness that is missing in too many Bordeaux wines. The result is a wine filled with flavours of peonies, fresh red cherries and brambles.

A perfect introduction to red amphora wines.


Juan Carlos Sancha “Pena el Gato tinto,” Rioja, Spain

Juan Carlos creates an elegant, pure Rioja wine by ageing his red wines from high altitude vineyards in ‘tinajas’ - the Spanish word for amphoras.

Expect a complex, fruit-driven organic wine filled with fresh red fruit aromas.

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