Budburst was early because the weather over that period was one of the warmest ever recorded. Late spring and early summer however, were unseasonably cool and cloudy, sufficiently slowing the development of the grapes to cause us concern. The skies then cleared and we had three to four months of unbroken sunshine. This enabled us to leave the fruit on the vine to attain excellent maturity and ripeness.
The Vineyard and the Vines
The vines, most of which are over a quarter of a century old, grow on north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day, but cool during the night which allows the fruit to ripen fully while retaining good natural acid levels. There is excellent drainage, which is helped by stones being intermingled with the soil. The variety of chardonnay, from which the wine is made, naturally produces low crops and this is enhanced by the vines being on their own roots and not grafted. A period of cooler weather, mentioned above, occurred over flowering and added to the low crop levels, which has given the wine extra depth and concentration.
Harvest and Wine Making:
We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was hand harvested in late April, the timing of each picking being planned to strike the best balance between the fruits’ ripeness, freshness and acidity. The unclarified juice obtained by gentle pressing was put into large oak barrels (puncheons), where it was allowed to undergo primary fermentation by the grapes’ indigenous yeasts. After this had stopped the wine was left maturing in these barrels over winter. When the cellar warmed in the early summer after harvest it commenced secondary (malo-lactic) fermentation naturally without the addition of micro-organisms. The exact amount of malo-lactic fermentation permitted was judged by regular tasting. After a year the wine was removed from the barrels and carefully blended according to taste and then put into a stainless steel tank to help it further mature and marry prior to bottling 6 months later. The use of puncheons, only a minority of which were new, and finishing maturation in tank has lessened the pickup of oak flavour and allowed the fruit to express itself. Virtuoso is made only in special years and comes from a small selection of the barrels which best express the vintage, our older vines and the terroir.
The bouquet and flavours are reminiscent of lemons, limes, white fleshed peaches and yellow plums with hints of fresh figs. There are also impressions of barbequed sweet corn, grilled mushrooms, wood smoke and liquorice, which add a savoury element. In the mouth the wine is concentrated, yet refined and stylish with a seam of minerality. Crisp acidity, which flows through the palate, supports the lingering after-taste. While ready to drink on release this wine should become even more multifaceted and complex with careful cellaring over the next 5-6 years and remain like this for over a decade.
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