Adrian Pike, Winemaker
Harvest really starts for me once the sugar comes into the grapes and we can start to get an idea of flavours and what this year's fruit will give us.
Last week's walk and taste with Marcus, our Vineyard Manager, picked up really lovely floral notes in the Meunier. I've always wanted to make a white still Meunier because with its delicate flavours and floral aromas, it feels like it would really work well. This year, it seems like the Meunier is on its way to being flavoursome and ripe with a soft acidity.
The Ortega really benefitted from the several days of rain that we had just before harvesting. Normally, rain at this point isn't ideal, but after such a dry summer, the last few days of rain helped the bunches; swelling the berries but without diminishing the flavours.
In the last few years, our classic Ortega has been a surprisingly rare wine considering it's one of our flagship products, so this year, we've made the decision to make just two wines from Ortega - our Ortega classic dry white and the Skin Contact - that way, everyone will get a chance to try it - and see why we are such devoted champions of Ortega.
Even with the recent wetter weather, careful management from the vineyard team has kept botrytis at bay. Whilst botrytis can offer some delicious sweetness if it stays dry, it can also decimate a crop in what seems like a matter of moments.
Over long two days of picking Ortega, we managed to pick and process just over 16 tonnes of fruit. This is the best yield since 2018. With the fruit tasting fantastic and hitting the right numbers for sugar and acidity, we're really looking forward to seeing how the juice develops over the coming months. Around 3 and a half tonnes was destemmed into stainless steel open topped tanks for making the skin contact. We're been punching this down daily and it's now happily fermenting with no additions - just the natural yeast from the skins to initiate fermentation.
The rest of the fruit was whole bunch pressed into stainless steel where half was innoculated with a yeast which we have found is perfect for keeping the bright, vital notes which Ortega produces. The other half had a pied de cuve (created by foot crushing 100 kilos of grapes a few days before we started picking in earnest to stimulate the fermentation). We have always aimed to have this combination in our classic Ortega and this year, we've done it! This combination of wild and commercial yeast gives us the complexity and depth we're looking for whilst keeping it fresh, bright and alive. We're every faith that this year's fruit will achieve that but with at least six months before we can release it, now it's up to the fruit and the ferments to do the hard work.