The 2021 growing season was very cool yet mild as there were very few days above 30 degrees and the mornings were mostly still and crisp. The days were typically sunny, with the occasional light cloud cover. We were lucky to avoid rain at harvest and the low-yielding fruit came in on time in pristine condition.
The tingling, cooling sea breeze arrived every afternoon racing up the valley where it tempered the afternoon’s westerly warmth. To produce Chardonnay with fineness it is crucial for the daytime temperature to drop to retain the natural acid.
Our little vineyard faces north, planted on gravelly soils at 100 meters elevation. The site overlooks the eastern bank of the spectacular Derwent River. Here our vines flourish with the ebbs and flows of the tidal influence and the seasonal patterns. Vineyard management is our focus. We hustle daily to keep the canopy open and positioned. This allows for good ventilation mitigating disease pressure. A healthy canopy provides shade from the midday sun and lengthens the vines’ ripening capacity. Small bunches intensify flavor, prompting crop monitoring to ensure our high-density plantings are faithful to low yields. We have a diverse mixture of chardonnay clones which provides another layer of complexity.
Hand-picked fruit is processed immediately to preserve all the integrity and purity of the grapes. All fruit is tank-pressed first and then barrelled by gravity to the underground cellar. The juice, on full solids, fills an assortment of barriques. These are mostly manufactured by small French coopers - with a good level of new oak. The juice’s indigenous yeast now takes the stage and erupts into spontaneous fermentation bubbling away in naturally cool and calm conditions. Barrels are topped regularly and battonaged infrequently. This is how the French masters have been making chardonnay for many generations. It is a traditional approach that we have employed.
Our 2021 Estate Chardonnay is fashioned in a classic, old-world style. Light golden straw in colour, with serene floral notes together with, custard apple, pineapple, and citrus aromas. Every mouthful is textured with rich layers of cream, toasted nuts, and meal. The tannins are quite elegant. They drive and focus on the length of this wine together with the fruit acidity, but they don’t assert themselves. Instead, they balance the wine’s power and opulence.