The ‘Conception’ paddock faces the morning sun to the north-eastern side of Moondarra. This ‘cleans’ the overnight dew through evaporation, reducing disease pressure and starts the vines photosynthesising at the earliest point of the day.
Fruit is handpicked, typically around mid-April. The fruit is mostly, though not entirely, destemmed. The percentage of whole bunches varies from 10 per cent to 30 per cent. We add sulphur and chill for a pre-ferment cold maceration, which lasts about two weeks. The must is then brought out for vigorous pigeage (foot-plunging) three times a day, until dry. Fermentation is in 500-litre food-grade picking bins with lids.
We drain to Barriques as soon as the wines are dry. We started sending the turbid wine to barrel – without settling – after our 2OO5 vintage. Neil has found that these turbid lees bring a chocolate mocha flavour to the mid-palate of the wine; they give more aromatic lift as well.
Conception goes through complete malolactic fermentation in Barriques. We tend not to rack the wines off gross lees until just prior to bottling. Neil likes the umami, glutamic flavour the autolysed yeast brings to the wine; it also protects from oxidisation.
These days, Neil uses new and one-year-old Remond Tronçais Barriques, and bottles after about a year. We like to bottle the wines without filtration; to our minds, this leaves viscosity and suppleness while being kind to the aromatics.
“While I love the velvetiness of our pinot noirs, I still think of them as more slutty flannelette than classic silk.” – Neil Prentice
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