Springs means priority is in the vineyard which is the most hectic and labour intense time of the year from budburst to fruit set, canopy management and all the work in between. Consequently, I only spend the rainy days in the winery. Some of the works I am currently undertaking…
Topping up barrels
The process of refilling any wine that has evaporated. Barrels aren’t completely airtight, so after a while the evaporation creates an increased headspace, or ullage. We need to fill this headspace both to avoid any bacterial spoilage and to reduce the amount of air the wine in barrel is exposed to, which can both result in oxidized notes and further evaporation.
How quickly evaporation happens depends on temperature, relative humidity, the movement of air in the barrel room and the quality of the barrel. The floor beyond our barrels consists of loose gravel so we can simply sprinkle water to keep an ideal humidity level in Marlborough’s dry climate. In spring, the barrel hall is naturally protected from the winery towards the afternoon sun, plus utility rooms on both sides and double insulation throughout. In the summer heat, some air-conditioning will be needed to keep the cool temperatures.
We probably need to top up every 5 to 6 weeks. The evaporated wine is romantically referred to as the “angels' share”. The angels must be wine lovers, given the fact that our iconic red wines can be up to three years in barrel, with 10% of the wine’s disappearing into thin air or the thirsty mouths of our ethereal friends.
Lees stirring of the wines from the 2021vintage
All our wines are ageing on its fine lees. The fine lees are particles that fall out of suspension at the tail end of fermentation. Our healthy and perfect fruit makes also for pure and healthy lees. Responsible for the wonderful silkiness in our wines, adding texture, increased body weight and favourable flavours. A good example is our richly texture Sauvignon Blanc, which was until recently always called ‘Sur lie’, French for ‘on the lees’ until the EU regulation forbid the description for us. One of the reasons that made our Sauvignon Blanc so distinctly different within Marlborough.
In red wines, it stabilizes colour and the Mannoproteins which add the creamy mouthfeel and increase wine aromas, also bind to tannins, which decrease astringency. Think about our finely textures Spirit of Marlborough or Montepulciano…
We stir the lees at least once a month after fermentation (called ‘bâtonnage’ in French), for about the first six month, to increase the surface area of lees contact and thus the extraction.
Bottling – from vine to wine all on our estate
I would never leave my handcrafted wines out of sight. So, unlike most wineries we have our own state of the art bottling line which is perfect for our smaller parcels of wine. Peace of mind and independence…
2020 Vintage Whites
The next rainy days will see me bottling the spectacular Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc of vintage 2020 after a generous 20-month barrel maturation.
2019 Vintage Reds
Some of our iconic reds will also be poured in bottles…, Tempranillo, Zweigelt, Montepulciano and some surprises (watch this space...).
In the meantime, we are excited to release some new releases! Click the link below to learn more.