News and Reviews

"So, how was vintage?"
It’s a ubiquitous question this time of year around Martinborough. You hear it at the general store, at the rural supplies outlet, in bars and cafes.  People say it instead of “Hi, how are you?.   For winemakers it can almost mean the same thing.

Vintage here means the really busy and intense time straight after harvest when the fruit is made into wine.  For us it’s usually about a month.  Long days – crushing fruit, punching down ferments to keep the cap of skins wet and extract the flavour and colour we are after, keeping an eye on temperatures, testing and tasting the ferment as it progresses.  And when we think it has macerated just the right time, pressing off the new wine from the skins and seeds, and leaving it to rest in barrels.

Of course, winemaking is never really finished  -- the wine carries on developing in the barrel, and then in the bottle, for years.   But by the end of vintage you have a pretty good idea of how the finished wine will shape up.

Everyone in the family helps out, and everyone plays their part.  Early morning prep to late night punchdowns.  A smooth craft, careful, thoughtful, and unharried, And we love it.

So how was vintage? It was awesome.

Here’s another favorite late autumn recipe when there are still a few grapes on the vines.  Poulet à la vigneronne --   winegrower’s chicken.

Salt and pepper the inside of a chicken. Stuff with a big bunch or two of grapes (we find that aromatic whites work best, but feel free to experiment!), and a bayleaf.  Lay two or three rashers of good streaky bacon crosswise on the breast of the chicken. If you have access to them, cover the chicken with 8 or so vine leaves (the tenderer the better, and make sure they are spray-free).  Place the chicken in a cast iron roasting dish.  Add about an inch of wine to the bottom of the dish – preferably the same variety as the grapes.  Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes at 200C, basting often with the jus.

When ready, remove chicken from the jus, reduce the jus and set aside in a serving jug.  Cut the chicken into pieces, and present it on the vine leaves.  Very classy.