We are halfway through our Chardonnay harvest. Quality this year looks very promising, with the healthiest grapes that I have seen since the 2006 harvest. So we are cautiously optimistic. The downside is that yields are down by 20%, due to to bad spring weather. Well you can’t have it all your own way!
An interesting addition we are making to our Chardonnay these days is a fraction of what we call “sweet reserve”. We produce a tiny amount of wine from vine dried Chardonnay grapes. The process involves crushing the stem of the grape bunch with a pair of pliers, 2 weeks prior to harvest. This stops the flow of water from the vine to the bunch. The grapes start to shrivel on the vine, concentrating sugar and more importantly flavour. It is similar to Straw wine, and is very laborious.
We do not ferment the wine completely, leaving about 80 grams of sugar. This super concentrated “sweet reserve” is then blended back into the main Chardonnay blend. In tiny amounts – we don’t want the final wine to be obviously sweet. This fraction gives us a rounder, fuller wine with greater complexity.