Budburst was advanced because the early spring weather was exceptionally warm. Late spring and early summer, however, were unseasonably cool and cloudy, causing us concern. The skies then cleared and we had 3 to 4 months of unbroken sunshine. This enabled us to leave the fruit on the vine to obtain excellent maturity and ripeness.
The Vineyard and the Vines
The vines are grown in stony, freely draining soil on north facing terraces. Being the most sheltered and warmest part of our vineyard they receive extra heat and we removed the leaves from around the bunches early in the summer to accentuate this effect. Some of the blocks are over a quarter of a century old and are on their own roots.
The Harvest and Winemaking
We used the traditional methods which are employed to make Bordeaux’s celebrated wine, Claret. After picking during May the grapes were fermented by their indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. During this process the juice was regularly drained from the tanks sprayed back over the surface of the cap of floating grape skins to keep it moist and healthy. After this primary fermentation ceased the tanks were sealed in the grape remnants were allowed to steep or macerate in the newly formed wine several weeks to help improve the wine's body and structure. The exact period of this process was judged by daily tasting. The wine was then drained off and put on to French oak barriques. In the summer after harvest it underwent natural spontaneous malolactic or secondary fermentation. It was in these barriques for two years, during which time it underwent several rackings, enabling it to clarify naturally. The various batches were then blended according to taste before bottling. This wine is 50% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% each of cabernet franc and malbec.
On release the wine has a bright calamine hue with lively aromas and flavours suggestive of purple fleshed plums, cassis and blackberries. There are additional underlying impressions of wood smoke, cigar box, spice and dark chocolate. It is generous on the palate with a seam of velvety tannins which fill out its structure and draw out the lingering aftertaste.
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