This is the first wine to be released under the entirely
new category "Wine from Naturally
Dried Grapes", recently formed by the Wine and
Spirit Board specifically to accommodate this wine and others
Vin de Paille is French for "straw
wine", a group of wines made from grapes dried
on straw mats. Described by British winewriter Jancis Robinson
as "... necessarily expensive, but often quite delicious,
long - lived sweet white wines ... Today, production of this
rarity is virtually confined to particularly ripe vintages
and the most conscientious producers of Hermitage, Arbois,
occasionally L'Etoile, and Cotes du Jura."
Other wines produced by various raisining techniques include
# "Vini Passiti" of Italy, including the Recioto
della Valpolicella / Amarone and Vin Santo of Tuscany. These
wines are made from grapes left to dry on racks or hanging
from rafters in airy loft spaces.
# "Strohwein" of Germany, similar in principle to
the "straw wines" of France.
# In various Mediterranean countries including Greece and
Cypress isolated examples are found. These are typically laid
out to dry in full sunshine on straw or plastic sheets.
Driven by the curiosity of these mysterious, unobtainable
wines, I decided to try something similar. In 1995
we produced a tiny experimental batch, which turned out to
be quite delicious. The 1996 vintage was not quite as rich
and the wine fermented to an amazing 16.6% alc. Although uncertified,
the wine was quickly sold out. These wines are still very
much in an experimental stage and are presented as an ongoing
process to develop a new wine style.
The following is a description of the 1997
Only top quality Chenin Blanc
grapes are used, mostly from a 25 year old block on a neighbouring
cool high altitude SW slope. The vines are unirrigated and
yielded 6 tons / hect. 1997 was a difficult growing season
with a lot of rain, particularly in our area, but the ripening
season was very cool and produced grapes of exceptional quality.
Harvest date: 7/3/97 - 27/3/97 @ 22 - 24° Balling.
The grapes were picked at optimum,
not over ripeness ( approx. 25
deg. balling ). They were laid out carefully on specially
constructed racks in partial shade ( 80% ) to slowly
shrivel over a 3 week period. The grape sugars, acids and
fruit flavours are naturally concentrated before reharvesting
in the cool morning. Due to the cool and wet weather at least
1/3 of the grapes had to be discarded before vinification.
The raisined grapes were crushed and pressed in a traditional
basket press and transferred by gravity directly to new
oak barrels. Barrel fermentation was completed using
natural yeasts only. The wine
matured for a little more than a year in 2/3 French, 1/3 American
new 225 litre oak barrels. Racked to remove heavy sediment
and lightly bentonite fined before being bottled unfiltered.
Matured for one year using 2/3 French, 1/3 American new 225
litre oak barrels.
Racked while in barrel to remove heavy sediment and lightly
bentonite fined before bottling unfiltered.
Bottling date : 25 / 5 / 98.
Attractive deep yellow / light gold colour.
Intense honey, dried apricot, nutty fudge, spice and ripe
tropical fruit aromas.
The palate is almost overly rich and concentrated with a welcome
dryness from the acidity and oak tannins balancing the sweetness.
Wonderful with ice cream and other creamy desserts or simply
to enjoy after a meal. Definitely not a palate cleanser!
Alc. 13.81 Sugar 113.5 TA 9.0 pH
3.57 VA 1.31 SO2 13 & 126
ONLY 60 CASES PRODUCED, PLEASE ORDER NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.