Sturdy acidity, light oak, slight butteryness, and intact fruitiness. This is a solid, flavourful, clean-tasting Chardonnay which pairs well with poultry, salads, craft cheeses.
Fifty percent of the grapes for this 100% Prince Edward County wine were sourced from eight-year-old vines on our estate vineyard, with the remainder grown at Ramirez Vineyard. All the grapes were grown on Hillier Clay Loam, the special clay/limestone mix that is so conducive to minerality and complexity in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Ramirez Vineyard is close to the village of Hillier, about ten kilometers West of Broken Stone Winery. The fruit was picked by hand and was very clean, with no rot to worry about and no ladybugs around that season. Both vineyards are low yielding at one-two tonnes per acre and dry-farmed.
Time honoured techniques
This Chardonnay was made using time-honoured techniques. We destem and press the grapes within 24 hours of harvest using a very gentle water press, then settle the juice overnight to remove some of the solids. From there, we inoculate with commercial yeast for a clean fermentation, and rack the mixture into barrels, where the juice ferments into wine over a course of approximately two weeks.
At that point we top up the barrels nearly full and seal them loosely to permit the malolactic fermentation to occur. This secondary fermentation softens the wine's acidity and provides the mild butteryness that many people covet in their chardonnay. Then the wine rests over the course of the winter. During this time we are constantly topping up the barrels to keep them full of wine, and prevent exposure to oxygen. It's cooler in our cellar at this point, so the malolactic fermentation phase takes five or six months. We test the wine periodically using paper chromatography, which shows us the presence of malic and tartaric acids.
Once our testing shows that malic acid is depleted, we rack the wine off the lees, add some sulphite, and then return it to barrel for further ageing.
At the start of September we rack the wine from barrels into a steel tank, and add some bentonite. We chill the wine to 4 degrees for a least a week. This clarifies the wine, further mellows the acids, and precipitates tartaric crystals in the tank to prevent them from forming in the final bottle. In late September we bottle the wine, providing room in the winery to receive the next vintage.
Bottling was conducted using a professional mobile bottling line, with a sterile filter, and the closure is screw cap. Although we do like the romance of using corks, there is a lot of bottle variance introduced by using wood closures. We have decided to use screw caps which is a far superior closure from a quality standpoint.