Chardonnay

The elevation of our Main Ridge vineyard sites play a significant role in producing Chardonnays of great focus and depth. Wild yeast fermentation, whole bunch pressing and bâtonnage all contribute to the development of great complexity, textures and flavours in our Chardonnays.

Stage

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Outcomes

Harvest method

Hand picked, or machine picked 

All our Chardonnay fruit is hand harvested as we believe the freshness and integrity of the berry and bunch is paramount to achieving our desired outcome. Hand harvesting also allows the use of whole bunches so stalks can be included in the pressing technique. Ultimately we do not under-estimate the need for careful, delicate handling of the grape at this critical stage.

Harvest parameters 

Flavour and phenolic development,
sugar
accumulation and acidity

Multiple criteria form the bases for our harvest decisions. A substantial part of our focus in the weeks leading to harvest is based upon sensory analysis of flavour and structural component development within the grape as well as retention of acidity.

Fruit reception

Destemming or
whole bunch,
crushing or not crushing 

All our white grapes are brought to the winery as whole bunches, and are transferred to the press via gravity. No destemming of white grapes is carried out as we believe that the process of destemming can liberate some of the harsher, more bitter phenolic components held in the grape skin. The use of whole bunch pressing allows a more delicate extraction.

Pressing

Method, press cycle, pressure and settling

The press cycle itself proceeds in graduated pressure holds to allow the extraction of juice with minimal damage to the skins. The presence of stalks within the press cake helps effective drainage and clarity to be achieved. Above all else, gentle and delicate handling is essential to a great result. On settling in tank for a short period of time, the juice is taken to French barrique, carrying a high level of solids that we consider imperative for structural development and complexities within the wine.

We use a mixture of new and old French oak barriques with the percentage of new oak governed by balance. Above all else oak should not dominate but complement, frame, elevate the attributes of the wine. Judging the ratio of new to old oak each season requires significant thought and the decision has to be made soon after vinification - this can be difficult given only a glimpse of what the wine should become throughout its life. Fruit profile, intensity and concentration are all major attributes that govern the final decision, as well as palate weight and the wines potential to develop mouth-feel over its maturation. Our approach is restrained, befitting the elegance of the wines.

Fermentation

Fermentation vessel, temperatures and fermentation length, wild fermentation or inoculation

Once transferred to French barriques, wild fermentation commences within usually 5 days and temperatures peak at approximately 24-25ºC. These temperatures can be considered quite high for white wine vinification, but we believe essential in the development of complex palate characteristics in our Chardonnays. As the fermentation begins to slow, the barriques are topped to limit exposure to oxygen.

 

Fermentation temperatures,
plunging and length
of time on skins

With the progress of what is usually an 8-12 day fermentation period, our Chardonnay will reach temperatures of 32-34ºC before activity slows as the sugar is consumed. With little intervention over this time other than manual plunging, it will be a further 5-6 days post fermentation before the completed ferment is taken manually to press. Our manual hands-on techniques enables us to forgo the use of a mechanical must pump, once again avoiding mechanical intervention, respecting the integrity and delicate nature of the grape.

Maturation

Bâtonnage
(lees stirring)

Over the course of the wine's maturation, bâtonnage will be carried out to create textures and mouth-feel derived from the contact with and evolution of yeast lees.

Malolactic fermentation

Wild or inoculated,
pre or post winter
and partial or full

A natural spontaneous malolactic fermentation will begin at the beginning of spring which not only creates textures and layers of complexity within the wine, but also balances the frame of acid of which is common to the elevated vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula. A decision to stop the fermentation before its completion is made based upon the level of acidity present and the balance of fruit present.

Finishing 

Fining, filtration and bottling  

Our Chardonnays will spend up to 11 months in oak before the wines are racked off lees, lightly fined and filtered, and then bottled.

 

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