As biodynamics is a fundamental part of our philosophy, it was a natural extension for us to explore the use of biodynamic barrels, so that is what we did when the French Cooper, Tonnellerie Bordelaise, invited us to be the first in Australia to use their Biodynamic barrels. In 2010, Tonnellerie Bordelaise started a new project – to harvest wood based on existing biodynamic/moon cycle principles. Small lots in the Chateauroux and Loches forest were harvested on specific days (flower/fruit/root days). After a few months the staves were split on corresponding days. Then manufacture and toasting occurred on the same moon cycle as harvesting and splitting.
So, the thinking behind the biodynamic barrel project is that depending on when each oak tree was harvested, the wood is likely to have slightly different characteristics. When exactly the same wine is matured in those barrels, the differences in oak wood should reflect in the wine, giving subtly different characteristics to the wine. Based on this well established knowledge we are ardent to present three wines exploring the nuances of certain oak tree harvest and barrel coopering days and their effects on wine. We found real differences in the aroma and palate of each wine, but we invite you to judge for yourself.
The vineyard we chose for this biodynamic barrel project was our Kalleske Greenock Shiraz block. The vineyard consists of shallow, sandy loam soil over deep red clay and limestone, providing ideal conditions for Shiraz vines. Wine from this vineyard is rich and solid and combines well with new French oak, allowing expression and harmony of both fruit and barrel.
Vintage 2013 was a great quality year. However, yields were lower than average as a result of a very dry season, with less than half the normal growing season rainfall. It was also warmer than average with the dry and warm conditions resulting in vintage being three weeks earlier than normal. Importantly though, quality was amazing with intense and generous wines.
The grapes were picked on March 4th 2013. After picking, the grapes were destemmed into an open top fermenter. Each batch was fermented warm (up to 30 degrees C. with hand pumpovers twice a day for 14 days on skins prior to pressing. To respect the fruit and typicity of the vineyard, as with all our Kalleske wines, native yeast conducted the fermentation and no enzymes or tannins were added. After pressing off skins the wine was settled in tank prior to filling to the new Tonnellerie Bordelaise hogsheads (300L), each a different type, being flower, fruit and root barrel respectively. The wines underwent natural malolactic fermentation in barrel. On completion of malolactic fermentation, each barrel was racked separately prior to returning the wine to its original barrel. The wine was matured in barrel for nineteen months. In October 2014, each barrel was solely racked for bottling, ensuring the individuality of each barrel type was maintained.