Cool weather over late spring and early summer affected the pollination of the grape flowers and led to a marked reduction in the amount of fruit setting in our block of Mendoza Chardonnay, a clone which, even at the best of times, has only low crops. During the rest of the summer the weather was excellent and autumn was warm, dry and long. This enabled us to pick a small crop of beautifully ripe, healthy grapes.
The Mendoza clone of chardonnay, of which this wine is entirely made, is recognised as producing wines of exceptional flavour, concentration, structure and length. It is not suitable for wide-spread commercial use and because of its tendency to crop shyly it is generally reserved for making special wines.
In making this wine we have used methods traditional to the famous white wines of Burgundy. After harvest the grapes were gently pressed and the juice, without clarification, was put into oak puncheons 500L (30% new) made by artisan Burgundian coopers. It was then allowed to undergo natural fermentation by the action of the grapes own yeasts. Following this the puncheons were topped up and the wine was left undisturbed in these on its natural yeast deposit or lees, until the following spring and early summer. At that time our cool wine cellar began to warm a little and the wine started secondary, or malo-lactic, fermentation through the action of its indigenous micro-organisms. Throughout this gradual process each puncheon was regularly assessed by taste and the malo-lactic fermentation was stopped when the balance was considered ideal. After approximately 12 months this wine was carefully removed from selected puncheons, blended and put into stainless steel tanks to allow it to integrate for another 6 months prior to bottling without any further oak contact.
The wine is a star bright lemon colour. Impressions of yellow plums, white peaches, nectarines and melon seem to reflect off a core of citrus fruits, especially limes, lemons and grapefruit. These are overlain with savoury elements, evoking the smoky aromas of a wood fired barbeque of white meats, mushrooms and sweet corn. This complex array of elements is refined and elegant, rather than upfront and brash. While the palate entry is restrained and unassuming, the wine gradually expands in the mouth to become broad-shouldered, muscley, taut and powerful. There is a decisive spine of acidity and minerality which run through the wine, extending into a long, lingering after-taste.
Although this wine is ready to drink on release, we believe with careful cellaring it will develop additional fascinating nuances and improve for 6-10 years after harvest and live well beyond.