Currently in the winery we are about to place our oak order for the 2012 vintage, securing our selected barrels and ensuring that they have adequate time to arrive from France.
The above photo illustrates our oak matrix and the myriad of elements that make up the decision making process.
To make it more interesting, we have to take a educated guess as to how much fruit we think we’ll have to determine how much oak we need. This scenario is painted with broad brush strokes as the vines are only just beginning flowering/fruit-set and from there harvest is still 3-4 months away at least, so our outlook is formed via a best case scenario tempered by crucial past experience.
Once we have determined how much new oak we require, our attention then turns to exactly what oak that is. That’s where the more complicated decisions begin…
To help guide these decisions we have historical data that has been accumulated over several vintages, with the wine from each barrel being scored in a blind tasting around one year into maturation. This approach ensures judgement by pure performance and clonal compatibility rather than by brand or preceding reputations.
Ultimately though our primary mantra of ‘site expression’ gets louder in our minds each vintage. This means we want the presence of our fruit to be foremost and for oak and other elements to be in a supportive role only. Some may construe this to mean oak is not important, but the ‘less is more’ approach only makes the oak decisions more critical!