The Chardonnay is in
Following a very steady couple of weeks of hand harvesting, we are nearing the completion of our Chardonnay harvest.
The yields are running about 25% lighter than anticipated, however the great news is, that the quality is exceptional. The combination of lower yields and the cool ripening season has produced fruit with excellent flavour and concentration – reminiscent of the 2009 vintage which had similar climatic characteristics.
The team hand-picked Chardonnay into fruit trays this year. These shallow trays allow the fruit to be brought to the winery in single layer with no juice extraction until it’s in the press, an addtional step in our quest to protect our fruit. It also means our Cellar Door team get a chance to be involved in wine making process, helping the winemaking team gently tip the Chardonnay into larger bins (allowing them to be tipped into the press) and separate any damaged fruit. Most of our Estate Chardonnay is now fermenting in the French oak barrels producing a beautiful aroma in the barrel hall which is one of the highlights of vintage.
It's certainly looking like a season where patience is rewarded, and allowing the fruit to reach its full flavour potential is resulting in slightly higher sugar levels than normal, yet still with excellent natural acidity.
We have also hand harvested our Chenin Blanc for our Project Sparkling wine, which looks fresh, flavoursome and vibrant.
Fruit Sampling Fun
The most important task throughout the harvest period is deciding exactly when to harvest each block or parcel of fruit. It’s an amazing experience walking the rows (dodging spider webs) with our production team as they taste random berries from various blocks. They are looking at the fruit profiles, acid levels and even (often eerily accurately) yield quantities.
To the untrained palate, those berries just taste like sweet, juicy grapes with lots of seeds, but to our team they taste like “lemon barley sugar flavours, high malic, about two-days away…”
Trials are something of the norm at Voyager Estate as we constantly develop and improve our methods, but that didn’t stop Richo (a.k.a. Richard Bramston) from looking pretty pleased with himself as he surveys his bin of specially selected Chardonnay bunches from Broadvale Block 5 destined for a whole bunch ferment (pictured).
If all goes well with the trial, you might find yourself using “funky” as a description when you finally get to taste our 2018 Chardonnay.