Biodynamics: 2015 Chardonnay

Four months after the end of harvest, our wines are resting in barrels or tanks, slowly building their identity and deepening their expression.

There is one wine that is receiving a particular attention: our Chardonnay. Since 80% of it is fermented and aged in barrel to develop body, aromatic complexity, and length, we also try to work as much as we can with the lees of this wine. We do this by stirring them up according to the Moon Calendar. Crazy? Not for us, here are some explanations…

Why working with the lees?lees2

The lees of the wine﹘ a deposit that forms at the bottom of a tank or a barrel﹘are dead yeast cells. When dead, those cells are broken down by natural enzymes and release compounds that are beneficial for the organoleptic qualities of the wine (aromatic complexity and mouthfeel)  and its stability.

In the case of our Chardonnay, we want to try to make a wine full of freshness with floral and fruity notes, developing roundness and volume in mouth as well as tension and length. The lees help us to reinforce all of those elements without compromising the ageability of the wine (lees absorb oxygen and better protect wine  against natural oxidation).

Interesting fact from the home region of Jean-Michel, the Head Winemaker: the technique of lees ageing was discovered, almost accidentally, in the early 20th century in Muscadet.  Traditionally producers of the region would set aside a barrel of wine for special occasions, such as a family wedding. This “honeymoon barrel,” as it became known, would take on more flavor and texture due to its contact with the lees, and would show a higher quality. From this observation a lot of the producers have been making wine aged on lees since.


Why stirring the lees, andbarrel according to the Moon Calendar ?

The stirring of the lees or “Bâtonnage” is an old technique from Burgundy, France. It is commonly
used with Chardonnay produced in barrels, helping the lees to have more contact with the clear wine to enhance the effect of the lees ageing.  But it’s a delicate balancing act: you don’t want to stir too much or the wine will lose its bright fruit flavors, and that’s the most important attribute in our wine.

And now, what is the place of the Moon Calendar in our way of working our Chardonnay?

Farmers, Vintners and Winemakers have noticed for a  long time the important differences of the plant and wine behaviors according to the cycles of the moon. The Moon cycle has a  very important gravitational force and according to its position relative to the Earth as well as its dynamic, the Moon can make water at the surface of our planet bulge (tides phenomenon).<img data-attachment-id="15755" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="289,129" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="tides" data-image-description="" data-medium-file=" cialis g.png” data-large-file=”” class=”size-full wp-image-15755 aligncenter” src=”” alt=”tides” width=”289″ height=”129″ />

For our Chardonnay, we are going to focus on the pull effect of the Moon which corresponds at the time of high tides, when the Moon is waxing.

Looking at the picture below, the wave corresponds to the waxing and waning Moon for the month of January 2016. The middle section is the waxing time of the Moon when we stirred up the lees of our Chardonnay. Thanks to the pulling force of the waxing Moon, the lees stays in suspension longer and so emphasizes the release of its beneficial compounds.

We began the program in October 2015. According to our follow up tastings and after a dozen stirrings at a rhythm of 2 by waxing Moon, we figured out the wine had arrived at its prime balance.

More tastings are to come to decide the final blend, but I can tell you right now that we are really excited by our Chardonnay 2015, a true representation of the quality of our site, reflecting all the attributes of the varietal as well as our passion to deliver an intriguing, multi-faceted and bright Chardonnay from the Rogue Valley.

Cheers !!!

Aurelien, Assistant Winemaker

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