Minus 4 and Planting Chardonnay!

On a bitterly cold Sunday morning, the planting team arrives at Sainte Rose, ready to plant 4 hectares of Chardonnay. It is the coldest day of the winter so far, at minus 4 degrees Centigrade and no one looks very enthusiastic! The sun is out however and once moving, the team makes excellent progress using their GPS-guided tractor to plant perfectly straight rows of young vines. Happily it has not been cold enough over a sufficiently long period of time to freeze the soil. The planting machine is also capable of giving the young plant 3 litres of water and to administer a small amount of herbicide around the foot of the vine to avoid early competition from weeds. Given the temperature however, neither of the above was possible as the water would just freeze! And as the temperature keeps dropping here, there are unlikely to be many weeds in the vineyards for quite a while!

We are planting more Chardonnay because it is such a useful and flexible grape variety. Picked early and vinified in tanks it can be fresh, fruity and vivacious. Picked later and barrel fermented or barrel aged and it will be expansive and luxuriant. Chardonnay is a key ingredient in our very successful ‘Coquille d’Oc’ white wine, providing the structure and backbone in what is quite an unusual blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Muscat. Chardonnay is also an important variety in ‘Le Vent du Nord’ providing vivacity and aromatics that lift the Roussanne with which it has been blended. Finally in the very best years, we have made Le Pinacle, a barrel fermented and barrel aged Chardonnay, which in blind tasting has been mistaken for a wine from Chassagne Montrachet and other much more expensive and well-known Burgundian appellations.

Our established Chardonnay vineyard has a very different aspect to this new plantation, so we are looking forward to seeing what this new vineyard can produce. Watch this space …..