A better understanding of our vineyards has led us to believe that certain blocks excel year after year. These blocks have always been treated separately to enable us to fine tune viticulture and winemaking in the thought of releasing some single block wines in the future. Well that time has come. Our Top Paddock vineyard was originally planted to 100 per cent Pinot Noir. In 2003, I decided to graft one block over to the Bernard clones of Chardonnay (95, 96, 277). I selected the best clones and the most balanced vines for cuttings. The block I selected was Easterly facing on the crest of the hill. I was always fascinated how Chardonnay on this block would go. The vineyard is 50 metres higher in altitude than the existing Chardonnay block.
Chardonnay from the Top Paddock has always had a different growth structure than our normal Chardonnay blocks. Positioned on top of the hill has meant the vines have had to work harder as the soils are poorer. Crop levels are never an issue with this block, with natural crop levels at one tone per acre. Minimal shoot thinning and positioning occurs in Spring. After this, we let the vines sort itself out.
In the winery, we treat this wine as we would normally treat all our Chardonnay.. The Chardonnay is picked in the early morning, and refrigerated down to 2⁰C for 12 hours. Then it is gentle destemmed, not crushed and pressed into tank. The juice is left to settle clear for 7 days with no enzyme or acid addition. The wine is then fermented till dryness using cultered and natural yeasts. The wine remains in cask for 12 months with occasional battonage. The wine is not filtered, not fined, or stabilized before bottling.
The vintage 2020 was cool, which was a welcome relief to the 2019 vintage. In 2019, we decided not to make a 1ER Chardonnay as we felt the vineyard suffered and as a result the wine did not have its usual clarity. However, 2020 was opposite with the resulting wine having great structure and line. This vintage reminds me of 2012 and 2015 which are still looking great and many years ahead of it.