Return of the Amphorae

Retro is in. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, there’s always some sort of throwback trend making the rounds in fashion, music, movies, etc. The wine industry is no different. But when wine enthusiasts throw it back, they throw it way back. Remember once upon a time when we explained how ancient civilizations stored, aged and transported wine in clay amphorae? Well, the amphora is back.

In truth, some cultures have never stopped using clay to age wine. And even more modern winemakers have dabbled with concrete tanks in recent years. But recently it seems amphorae are having a little bit of a global renaissance. But why?

Well, just as there are benefits to aging wine in oak or stainless steel wine barrels depending on your goals for the batch, clay has its benefits too. In modern days, clay’s primary benefit is that it is a nice middle ground between the traditional oak and the more modern, eco-friendly stainless steel wine drum. Clay is porous like oak, giving the wine a deep, rich texture, but neutral like steel, preventing the container from imparting any additional flavors on the product.

It’s interesting to think of an ancient method owing it’s comeback as a middle ground between two more ‘refined’ and modern winemaking methodologies. It’s a testament to how fluid wine innovation is. There is no one ultimate aging process, winemakers are always playing with techniques and tools new and old to craft the product they intend in that moment. 

We can’t help but mention that the reason civilizations moved on from the amphorae was because civilizations were on the move. Clay doesn’t travel particularly well. Still, everyone loves a comeback.