The term “Pigeage” is a French word that can be translated as “Punching Down”. It is used to describe the process of pushing down the skins inside a must during the maceration and/or the fermentation phase.
The must cap, which is composed of grape skins that have been propelled to the top of the tank by the carbon dioxide created during fermentation, is pushed down manually or automatically to re-embrace the juice. Compared to pumping over (called Remontage in French, click here for more details) or “delestage” (click here for more details on Delestage), this extraction technique is more delicate. When a reduced amount of extraction is desired, or for thin-skinned varietals like Pinot Noir or Grenache, it is the preferred method.