The Making of Pinot Noir

March 4, 2018 4:48 pm

“Great wine is made in the vineyard”

Winemaking is a simple process of preserving the integrity of the fruit, the site, and the vintage. At St Maur, the winemaking process aims to make the best wine of the vintage; with the wine expressing where the grapes come from; i.e. our terroir!

Pinot Noir is a variety that lends itself to the influence and expression of the site. A grape varietal that is the most challenging for a viticulturist to grow but definitely worth the pain once the Pinot Noir has made it to the cellar. There are various methodologies one can adapt to making a great Pinot Noir. From harvest to fermentation to filtration and the final product all elements contribute to the character of the wine. The respect for our terroir and the grape itself dictates our winemaking philosophy.

Foundation for any good wine is how the grapes have been picked i.e. “The Harvest”. A bigger and a more crucial decision prior to harvest is when to pick those grapes. This is where the weeks spent in the vineyard come into play where one is looking for a balance between the sensory flavour and levels of acidity and sweetness in the grape. Further to maintain the freshness and fruit of the berry, we employ a traditionalist approach and hand-pick the grapes, a significant step in achieving our wine style.

Next stage in the vinification process is to ferment the grapes. Before we get into that it’s vital to determine the fruit reception; whether to use whole bunches or de-stem the grapes. This decision determines the style of the wine. Using whole bunch fermentation is a tricky affair; especially for a delicate grape as Pinot Noir; since it adds herbaceous flavours and can reduce colour. One can find many arguments in favour of including stems or not. We believe, even though, whole bunches can add a unique characteristic to the wine, de-stemming allows the Pinot Noir to showcase elegance and pure attributes of the region. We use de-stemmed grapes in open fermenters to allow the wine to grow.

From this point onwards, the grapes are left to ferment for two weeks at 25 ̊C temperature using a combination of burgundy yeast strains. With little intervention over this period, other than hand plunging, it takes 5-6 days for post fermentation to complete. When we have achieved the anticipated level of ferment, based on the tannin profile and level of extraction, the timing of pressing is determined. Once again avoiding mechanical intervention and maintaining the integrity and delicate nature of the grape, we hand press which enables us to achieve the desired levels of phenolic and structural components.

From here the wine spends 15-18 months in French oak barrels for maturation. The duration the wine spends in the oak is determined when the ideal intensity of oak flavour is achieved. During this period, due to change in temperature, the wine also goes through Malolactic fermentation which increases the complexity, stability, and mouth-feel of the wine. Once all the structural components have been attained and through a coarse filtration process, it’s time to transfer the wine into bottles and bring it to the cellar for resting!

We believe these methods produce a complex wine with elegance, texture, and depth, allowing the true identity of the fruits source to be portrayed.

This post was written by St Maur Wines


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