Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2019
Layers of pure honeyed, stone fruit pinot gris upon layers of five spice and red fruits, almost pinot noir moments. Above all, the marvellous botrytis notes of marmalade, glacé pear and white chocolate. A residual sugar of 250g/L amounts to a dense delicious wine.
LOOKS LIKE... Bright heavy ultra-viscous gold
SMELLS LIKE... Honey mushroom spice, hints of apricot kernel
DRINK WITH... Pastry, fruit tart, chocolate torte
CELLAR UNTIL... 2029
A crack team of five, hand selected the most botrytis affected berries and bunches on the 17th and 30th April 2019. Interestingly the first tranche of 0.8 tons yielded 430-440 grams of sugar per litre whilst the later pick, only 360 grams of sugar per litre. A whole bunch/berry press cycle yielded treacle like juice. The further into the press, the sweeter the juice, and so there is some confusion as to how sweet what portion was at any time, however the end result is a very sweet wine of 250 grams per litre sugar, pH in the order of 3.74, total sulphur at bottling 170 ppm.
The first pick was racked into a new barrel with the ultimate aim of the wine being so sweet, the yeast would simply expire at around 12% alcohol; this unicorn occurred. The second pick was not quite as sweet and required cooling to halt the fermentation. We did try zero inoculation, however combined with the zero sulphur, the juice was heading down the wrong road so we inoculated with a ‘wild’ yeast which was highly suited to the task. These ‘wild’ yeasts are selected for all kinds of problem solving activities and then cultured commercially. In this case, the yeast preserved grape acidity, decried volatile acidity, and conveniently died when the going got too tough at around 12% alcohol and 250 grams residual sugar. There were massive logistical problems around keeping wine cold, keeping barrels full, keeping bacteria out, and landing a fully clarified wine in time for bottling on 28th August. We have made sweet wines for decades, and we accumulate more techniques to manage this very difficult winemaking. Lucas Blanck’s experience in Alsace has really allowed us to reach a much higher standard.
This Late Harvest Pinot Gris is selected from a portion of Tussie Mussie A Block. Lucas Blanck has carefully evaluated the best site to await the late entrance of Botrytis. The mould, slowly and invisibly at first, creeps around the skin of individual berries developing a grey bloom. This bloom requires water and sustenance causing the grapes to shrivel. Timing is everything; the very best Botrytis requires a cool, humid, even dewy early morning followed by a few overcast days interspersed with hours of cool sunshine. The perfect sequence before picking is a a fortnight of Botrytis weather and then perhaps a day or two of a hot northerly to dry out the bloom. It’s usual for cold wet weather to follow sunshine so we ask our crack team to whip out and pick the shrivelled grapes in a few hours in the morning before the inevitable cold wet weather reverses the shrivelling affect of Botrytis Cinerea.