By Assistant Winemaker, Anthony Gallegos
May is an exciting time for us at Le Vigne Winery as we have just bottled our Barrel Select Viognier and Chardonnay! A lot of work goes on behind the scenes with these wines from the moment the grapes are picked to the moment they go into the bottle. Our Viognier and Chardonnay are both located on the Domenico Estate Vineyard surrounding the winery. There is just under an acre of Viognier planted and we find that sometimes there is a need to wait a little longer to harvest because we aren’t just satisfied with good sugars or acid we also need to taste the juice to make sure the fruit has reached peak physiological ripeness; meaning the berries themselves have reached maturity, resulting in those beautiful honeysuckle and grapefruit notes.
If the fruit is picked in haste it never gets the chance to develop those floral and fruit notes so characteristic to our Viognier. These are the only two wines that undergo both primary and secondary fermentation in barrel giving both wines a lush full body. After fermentation, we also stir the lees within the barrels once a week for two months to give the wines more body and texture. The Chardonnay undergoes full malolactic fermentation converting the sharper malic acid to softer lactic acid and it is aged in 60% New Eastern European Barrels. The Viognier had malolactic fermentation stopped before completion to retain some of the malic acid that allows the wine its characteristic brightness while rounding out the palate.
The Viognier is fermented and aged in only neutral oak barrels because while we want to give the Viognier weight we also don’t want to overpower the lush honeysuckle nose and grapefruit palate. Achieving that balance in the Viognier can feel like a bit of a balancing act of its own for us, as we need to taste the barrels throughout secondary fermentation and the lees stirring process to catch the wine at its peak. We are very excited to share our amazing Viognier with our Famiglia and I can say without hesitation that it is the best Viognier we have made to date!