2012 Pegasus Bay Chardonnay

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This was one of our cooler summers, although by leaving the grapes on the vines until later in the season we achieved excellent ripeness with good natural acidity. A modest crop level has contributed to structure and body in the wine.

The vines, which are almost 30 years old, grow on their own roots in well-drained stony soil on a series of north facing, gradually descending terraces. The site is warm during the day but cool at night, resulting in good ripening while retaining the grape’s natural acids. The plants are from an old, low cropping, clone that is prone to having a mixture of small and large berries on the same bunch. It typically produces chardonnay with good concentration and depth.

We use traditional Burgundian winemaking methods. The fruit was picked in stages during April/May and then gently pressed. The non-clarified juice was put into large French oak barrels (puncheons), 70% of which were old in order to limit pickup of oak flavour. In these it underwent primary fermentation by the grapes indigenous yeasts. The wine was then matured in the puncheons on its natural yeast deposit (sur lie). In the summer after harvest it started to go through spontaneous secondary (malolactic) fermentation. A further period of maturation preceded bottling.

The wine exudes enticing aromas and flavours suggesting citrus fruits, nectarines, white fleshed peaches, and ripe figs. Underlying savoury nuances hint at toasted almonds, barbecued sweet corn and grilled mushrooms. It is rich and powerful in the mouth but retains a broad shouldered muscularity and austerity. There is a core of flinty minerality and grape fruity acidity that keep the wine tight knit, focused and help draw out its lingering aftertaste. With careful cellaring over the next 5 – 10 years it should develop a range of additional fascinating nuances.