Two diverse and select parcels of Gin Gin clone Chardonnay were chosen to produce this wine. Gin Gin clone vines were used exclusively as I believe that this clone more so than any other expresses the unique Margaret River and sub-regional terroir.
The first plot of vines lies in the famed Wilyabrup sub-region. More examples of Margaret Rivers most famous Chardonnays and Cabernets originate from fruit in this subregion than anywhere else in the district.
The second plot of vines is in the far south of Karridale, itself the most southerly of Margaret River’s subregions. The vineyard is in close proximity to both the Indian and Southern Oceans leading to typically far lower growing season temperatures.
The 2016/17 growing season got off to a good start in spring. Even budburst, high numbers of inflorescence (grapevine flower clusters) and great conditions during flowering lead to a fantastic berry-set and gave growers an early indication of better than average crop levels.
Then our summer, which is typically quite mild in comparison to other areas of Australia, progressed as a much cooler than normal summer. In January, whereas we normally experience days of around 26-28°C as a maximum and around 16°C during the evening, during the 2016/17 summer we rarely had days over 24°C and regularly experienced evening temperatures down around 11°C at night.
The healthy crop levels and cooler temperatures lead to a very slow maturation of the grapes, with all varieties being harvested approximately 4 weeks later than usual our wines and the resulting wines display a wonderful mineral acidity so typical of a cooler growing season.
All of the grapes for this wine were handpicked into small 8kg crates and immediately transported back to the winery where the whole bunches of grapes were placed gently into a traditional basket pressed to extract the juice. Whole-bunch basket pressing yields around 20+% less juice than a conventional airbag press, but the juice quality is second to none.
The juice was run into a mix of brand new and seasoned oak. 1 brand new French oak barrel was used, giving the wine a new oak percentage of 17%. The remainder of the barrels were a mix of 2 and 3 year old oak. The wine was fermented dry utilising the indigenous yeast which came in on the grape bunches from the vineyard.
Following alcoholic fermentation the wine was encouraged to undergo malolactic fermentation, a process whereby the malic acid naturally present in the grapes is converted into the softer and more textural lactic acid. As with the alcoholic fermentation, this occurred through bacteria which were naturally present in the juice and winery environment. Malo was allowed to continue until around 80% complete after a small addition of sulphur was added to protect against oxidation and the wine racked off its heavy yeast lees. The wine has rested and developed in oak for 9 months during which time it underwent the process of bâtonnage (stirring of the yeast lees in the bottom of the barrel) for 4 months to encourage development of more complex, savoury aromas and flavours.
This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered, with our aim being to showcase the amazing fruit which went into making it in the purest way possible.
A wine which truly reflects the cooler season in which it was grown. The nose displays subtle savoury aromas, crème caramel and light, spicy, clean oak with hints of white stonefruit and nashi pear. On the palate this theme continues all framed by a wonderful mineral acid line that is both fresh as well as being salvia inducing in its minerality. This wine is drinking wonderfully on release but we expect it to begin to unwind and become more generous on the palate given time in the bottle. For those fans of aged Chardonnay I also belive this wine will age incredibly gracefully for 15+ years.