Harvest Diaries – Chardonnay 2016

Harvest Diaries – Chardonnay 2016

This cultivar was originally found in Burgundy in the eastern part of France and smuggled to South Africa in the 1970’s. This green skinned grape boasts tropical, butter and honey flavours in the medium climate of South Africa. Marklew Family Vineyards situated in The Simonsberg ward on the R44 has an ideal terroir (soil, climate and slope) for Chardonnay. Chardonnay in South Africa is usually ready to harvest at the beginning to mid February. This year was no exception even though we experienced an extremely hot period around Christmas time which spikes the sugar levels inside the grapes faster than the acids. At harvest we picked the grapes at a 24.5 Balling (natural sugar level inside the grape), pH of 3.5 and with a natural acidity of 5.8. The pressed grape juice was then moved into stainless steel tanks where fermentation (the change from sugar to alcohol thanks to natural and added yeast) took place. The juice was inoculated with Laffort VL 2 yeast and supplemented with Thiazote (an organic nutrient found inside the grape) which ensures the fermentation runs smoothly and with no risk of a stuck fermentation. The fermentation period lasted for 10 days. The newly fermented grape juice was then moved into barrel where maturation and malolactic fermentation (a second fermentation where the harder malic acid changes into a softer lactic acid) took place. During malolactic fermentation we used an airlock bung whereby no oxygen could enter the barrel (which is the main cause of wine spoilage) but carbon dioxide (the by product in wine making) can escape through a bubbling effect out the top of...