NV HOLLY'S GARDEN ÜBERBRUT
In 2OO7, I started making sparkling base from pinot noir fruit from the Holly’s Garden vineyard. At that stage, I had no idea how I’d get it to bottle, but believed the vineyard might produce extraordinary sparkling base – and it does. I strongly believe we make fabulous, distinctive sparkling wine from the same fruit every vintage.
This said, we are reducing the volume of pinot noir base and increasing the volume of blanc de noir produced. The dry red is at best, good, and occasionally disappointing.
These days the free run juice is allowed to oxidise and is fermented mostly in large old oak, with a small proportion in tank and inoculated with approximately 5 per cent of the recommended dose of QA23 (a vinho verde isolate, which produces a delightful tang). The low dose is used so that we get a long slow fermentation with a large number of generations of yeast. In this way, the yeast begins to find the ethanol toxic and produces mucyl polyproteins and gucyl polyglycerides.
Kate Goodman assisted with the pressing cycle, which we still use. The early vintages were tank fermented using EC1118 (safe yeast). The dry wine was sent to small old oak with no added sulphur to go through malolactic fermentation.
I think this is the ‘magic’ of ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ fermentation but I get to choose the specific characteristics of the yeast.
The components in larger old oak are inoculated with small amounts of fermenting juice from the tank fermentation.
We run a ‘solera’ of sparkling base in large old-oak, which contains wine from each vintage going back to 2OO7. This gives important complexity to the final product.
I met Mal Stewart in the intervening years. He’s a guru sparkling producer and the tension between his precise technique and my alchemist’s instinct, has resulted in Holly’s Garden ÜberBrut.
I buy in a little post ferment Hoddles Creek chardonnay to add freshness.
The result is 30 per cent solera, 30 per cent two year old blanc de noir made the same way, 30 per cent one year old blanc de noir made the same way, and 10 per cent new chardonnay.
The chardonnay adds some grapefruit sourness to the green strawberry flavours of the BdN and adds tension and shifts the balance and length on the palate in a nice way.
I top the barrels with tank fermented Chardonnay wine. This adds ‘umami’ through the autolysed yeast and sourdough and brioche type aroma.
I’m trying to produce an aperitif style. Dosage varies from O.O to 1.O g/L. the current NV #5a is O.25 g/L.
I’m trying to get time on triage out to two years, but it varies between one year and 18 months. We get fabulous complexity from the oxidised solera, which lets me make our ‘complex aperitif style’ with this reduced time on triage. We label with a number, representing bottling, and a letter, representing disgorgement.
Extended time before disgorgement adds richness to the wine and thus, requires less dosage.
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