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Wine Making Philosophy

“If you have good grape juice, the role of the winemaker is not to screw it up.” Kermit Lynch.

The closest attention to quality with the minimal intervention is the wine-making philosophy at Mount Terrible. In following the traditional Burgundian methods, our wines are as close to hand crafted as winemaking permits. The bunches are individually selected by trained pickers before a secondary quality review by John takes place on the picking table. Handling, both of the bunches and the resulting must, is kept to a minimum with gravity feeds replacing pumping wherever possible. Everything now takes place on the estate, again in common with the best Burgundian winemaking practices. Reflecting the precision required by John in the operating theatre, no compromises are made to achieving the highest quality possible.

Yields in the vineyard are kept below 1.5 tonnes to the acre. The grapes are picked by hand in late March or early April, on the basis primarily of flavour, at 13.5 – 14 degrees Baume. They are refrigerated on site within minutes of picking, then scrupulously sorted prior to crushing and de-stemming. The must, to which variable percentages of whole bunches and stems are added, is then held in stainless steel tanks for five days of cold maceration prior to the initiation of fermentation. Temperature during fermentation is controlled actively and there is a regime of strict four-hourly plunging.

On completion of primary fermentation, the wine is pressed off skins in a basket press and racked to barrel, where malo-lactic fermentation takes place. Aging takes place in French oak barriques, one third new, for sixteen to twenty months after which the wine is bottled, unfiltered, on site. It is then held in the cellar for a minimum of twelve months prior to release. The object of the exercise is to produce a complex, well-integrated wine.

The 2006 and 2008 vintages were beautifully made by Jane Donat while she was at Delatite. Andy Browning, Jane’s worthy successor, presided over the 2010 vintage. The 2011 vintage was divided into two identical parcels, one made by John in the newly commissioned Mount Terrible Winery and the other by Andy at Delatite. Not surprisingly, since the same techniques and barrels were used in both wineries, the two wines were very similar and the 2011 vintage is a blend of both.

The 2011 vintage was divided into two identical parcels, one made by John and Jess Bolwell, Jamieson-born and California-trained winemaker, in the new on site purpose built facility and the other by Andy at Delatite. It will be interesting to compare the results!