Chambord’s Sistiere production facility comprises an office and three other buildings surrounding a central courtyard, each dedicated to one of the three stages of production.
STEP ONE - INFUSION
The first and most important stage of Chambord’s production is the fruit infusion. Large cylindrical infusion tanks are loaded with 4 tonnes of frozen blackberries and raspberries and 2,000 litres of sugar beet neutral alcohol at 96.3% alc./vol.. The fruit is sourced from both the northern (France and Serbia) and southern hemispheres (Chilli) to ensure continuous year-round supply. Frozen fruit is used as it is the best way to capture and maintain the fruits’ ripe, juicy flavours, coupled with the fact that freezing breaks down the fruits’ cell structure and actually helps the steeping process.
When the infusion vessel is first filled, a little heat is applied, just to help defrost the fruit. The infusion is left for around a month, with the vessel rotated every 12 hours to ensure an even infusion. The richly fruit-flavoured alcohol from this first infusion, the “first juice”, is emptied from the infusion vessel and transferred to a holding tank. The vessel, still containing the fruit, is then filled with neutral alcohol diluted to 28% alc./vol. for a second, shorter infusion. This produces the “second juice” which is also drained and transferred to a holding tank. The fruit left in the infusion vessel is then removed and pressed to obtain the “third juice”. These three ‘juices’ are blended to produce “the berry infusion”.
STEP TWO – BLENDING
The berry infusion is then blended, with natural essences extracted from black raspberries, blackcurrant and other raspberry varietals. At this stage a proprietary blend of French cognac, essence of Madagascan vanilla, extracts of Moroccan citrus peel and fragrant herbal and honey essences are also introduced to the blend. It should be noted that all of these essences are natural and no artificial essences are used.
The Master Blender balances the blend to ensure its aroma and flavour profile match the exacting Chambord specification. Only then will he filter the product. Wine industry filtration technology is employed with high-tech equipment supplied by Padovan of Italy. This space-age device has layers of fine gauze on which a ‘cake’ of cellulose and diatomaceous earth. Sugar, neutral alcohol and de-mineralised water are added to the filtered concentrate to produce the final product at 16.5% alc./vol., ready for bottling.
STEP THREE – BOTTLING
Although the new bottling line is state-of-the-art, it still requires human input by around 15 workers. Firstly the bottles are ‘de-palletised’ and washed with water at the same alcoholic strength as the liqueur they will hold. The bottles are then filled with Chambord liqueur and sealed with small plastic screw caps. Spots of glue are then automatically dropped on top of each screw cap, and skirted decorative caps applied over the top of each plastic cap by hand.
The huge Krones labelling machine then applies all six labels as the bottles rotate inside between its six heads. (The bottle is so thick in diameter that two labels are required to jointly stretch around the belly). Lastly a team check each bottle for defects and fix the booklet to each bottle neck before hand-packing into boxes.