Fruit is handpicked, typically around mid April. The fruit is mostly, though not entirely, destemmed. The percentage of whole bunches varies from 10% to 30%. We add sulphur and chill for a pre-ferment cold maceration which lasts about two weeks. Then the must is 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, without settling. We started sending the turbid wine to barrel without settling after 2OO5 vintage. I’ve found that these turbid lees bring a chocolate mocha flavour to the mid-palate of the wine; they give more aromatic lift as well.
The wines complete malolactic fermentation in barriques. We tend not to rack the wines off gross lees until just prior to bottling. I like the umami, glutamic flavour the autolysed yeast brings to the wine. It protects from oxidisation too.
These days I use new and one-year-old Remond Tronçais barriques and bottle after about a year. I like to bottle the wines without filtration. To my mind, this leaves viscosity or suppleness in the wine as well as being kind to the aromatics.
While I love the silkiness of our Pinot Noirs, I still think of them as more ‘slutty flannelette’ than classic silk.