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Grape News...from Dustin Osborne, our resident winemaker at Mont Rochelle.
I’m writing from the Manor House, where I’m currently staying with my family during lockdown as wine waits for no one. We had an extremely busy harvest back in February so I am working in the winery to make sure that all that hard work is not wasted and our wines continue to excel even during these unusual times.
Harvest here at Mont Rochelle started with a bang on the 3rd February, with the first of the Chardonnay destined for French Oak coming into the cellar unfashionably early by 2 weeks compared to previous vintages. As the season progressed, the ripening of the fruit was steady and controlled. We were lucky to have minimal heat waves and mild and consistent temperatures which meant beautifully phenolically ripe fruit and an ending to the vintage on the 3rd March with the harvest of our last Cabernet Sauvignon, a full 3 weeks ahead of the 2019 vintage.
The 2020 vintage will long be known as the COVID-19 vintage as the team had been working around the clock until the announcement of lockdown came into effect from 26 March 2020. This created a scurry in many cellars to harvest the last grapes of the season and complete winemaking processes in the cellar. Wine related activities were initially prohibited, but Government made a last-minute concession which allowed for the harvesting and storage activities, essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods, during the lockdown. Fortunately, at Mont Rochelle, our last grapes came into the cellar on 3rd March so there wasn’t much interruption in the overall harvest process.
A wine to look out for from this year’s harvest will be the Mont Rochelle Chardonnay 2020. There were two different components harvested, at different ripeness levels, with different yeasts used. Early signs of the wines post-ferment and ‘sur lee’ are very promising with the stainless-steel portion showing beautiful citrus, melon and cling peach aromas. The portion that went to French oak is also shaping up beautifully, with strong stonefruit aromatics, there is beautiful fruit and a structured pallet that’s apparent and this portion will integrate well with the French oak it is in.
In other news, our extensive replanting programme on the farm continues. The plantings from 2018 are now trained onto the cordon wire and the 2019 plantings of Cabernet Franc and Syrah are looking healthy. We are also busy with preparations to plant the top part of the mountain; however, we wait to see what restrictions COVD-19 will have on our progress there. In other farm activities our Cover Crops were sown in the second week of April and are looking happy (as can be seen in the picture).
It’s a hugely exciting time for Mont Rochelle and to be able to manage and oversee a project like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Matching certain varietals, clones and rootstocks to certain terroirs gives the vines the best possible opportunity to produce top quality terroir driven grapes and ultimately wines of serious complexity and balance. And for our guest and visitors it means our wines will taste even better!
Find out more about our wines, and where to buy them, here.
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