Harvest 2016 was unusual in that it provided more than its fair share of challenges to test our nerve and skill as winegrowers. Spring rainfall was well below the norm—almost drought conditions, then a touch of hail, and then heavy rains. This resulted in a lot of pacing about vineyards and an intense obsession with weather forecasts! But by and by our patience and perseverance was rewarded with some intensely flavoursome wines.
Clones 15, 2/23 and B95 have been used for this Chardonnay sourced from two premium Nelson Chardonnay sites. The first on the alluvial gravels of the Waimea Plains and the second on the heavy clay seams of the Moutere Hills. The grapes were harvested during the second week of April at optimum ripeness.
On arrival at the winery, the fruit was gently whole bunch pressed to tank with only the freerun and first fractions being retained. The juice was briefly settled before racking with light aromatic lees being retained to contribute texture and savoury interest on the palate. The juice was feremented in a blend of French oak puncheons and barriques with selected aromatic yeast strains to maximise fruit driven varietal characters.
At the completion of fermentation the wine underwent extended lees stirring in barrel and was aged in French oak for 11 months to support fruit concentration, while also adding palate weight and complexity. The wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation prior to blending and finishing the wine for bottling.