In anticipation of International Chardonnay on 27th May 2021, a word about Ataraxia’s very exciting “black” technique employed in the making of our Chardonnay 2020. It is an old (nearly 100 years), almost forgotten, traditional Burgundian method. It forms part of Ataraxia’s quest to accurately and authentically express the soul of our terroir (over trying to conjure an expression of the grape itself through winemaking alchemy).
In a winemaking world intent on preserving just about everything in a wine by using reductive winemaking techniques, this method does exactly the opposite! Rather than pressing gently, the fruit was vigorously worked. It almost an act of violence! Then, instead of denying the juice oxygen, it was excessively aerated, almost to a point of complete saturation. The real (black) magic happened when dark, ebony-coloured juice resulting from this process (hence the use of the word “black”), flowed from the press, and was transformed into a scintillating green-tinted yellow hue by the end of fermentation. The basic science behind this method is that excessive exposure to oxygen has the effect of oxidizing all unstable and easily oxidizable phenols (a naturally occurring component of grapes), thus ridding the juice and resulting wine of these very compounds that could/would cause a white wine to age and colour prematurely. In other words, the more oxygen the must absorbs, the less oxygen is consumed by the wine.
Spontaneous and complete barrel fermentation and subsequent ageing in specially selected French oak barrels sourced exclusively from Burgundian coopers, comprised part of a gentle, minimalist, non-interventionist winemaking approach employed after the “bludgeoning” that occurred at the press. In this way we have crafted an astonishing and arrestingly authentic wine interpretation of a terroir ideally suited to Chardonnay.
Stylistically, this soil-driven Chardonnay is New World in provenance but Old World in stylistic leaning. Athletic in structure, it effortlessly manages to be both subtle and intense. It is vibrant, almost spicy, with alluring creamy notes. An assertive mineral acidity beautifully balances a compelling intensity of fruit. There is a surprising touch of “grip” to the finish deftly rounded off with complex savoury, briny, and flinty notes. A stylish, world-class Chardonnay.
Fine Music Radio: Fine Food - 22 May 2021
Join Gourmet Guide, Jenny Handley, as she discovers the magic of black Chardonnay in discussion with Kevin Grant of Ataraxia Wines.