Vintage 2015 – unfurling innovative Chardonnays

This is a watershed vintage for Tony Bish Wines, as we launch into some funky new vineyards and winemaking tools to create some awesome new styles of Chardonnay. Fat n Sassy has just gained some new family, and the musics getting louder.

In my last post I introduced our Gisborne project, tentatively named “Nirvana Chardonnay”. But sadly, this name has been registered by a holding company, so its sits locked in cyberspace, unused, unloved and unavailable. Richard and I are not concerned, its early days. The wine is moving gracefully through its metamorphosis at present, and when we have it closer to completion, we will indulge a few glasses together, play some vinyl on Richards trusty AR turntable, and inspiration will flow. Watch this space…

Egg Label1

The beautiful FermEgg concrete fermentor has been pure bliss to work with. Hand harvested Mendoza chardonnay from coastal Te Awanga was whole bunch pressed to fill the egg for ferment. The movement rhythm & melody of the ocean waves that these grapes were born grown & harvested under the spell of are retained in the organic belly of the egg. The natural swirl of the earths rotation continue unimpeded in its gentle curves, producing a passive constant motion that builds texture and richness in the wine. The ferment dynamics were perfect, & the birth of NZ’s very first 100% egg fermented Chardonnay has been truly a pleasure. The wine is now passing through its secondary malo-lactic ferment, softening & assuming the shape of the mother egg, rounding & filling out in a rather rubanesque & seductive way. Allocation only wine, released early next year. Thanks to Simon Daley for the rocket art, nice work.

F&F hand pick

For my lovely new Taransaud barrels, I begged a favour from old friend & colleague of many vintages, Denis Gunn. Together over the years we have made some awesome Chardonnays from his family block, Skeetfield Vineyard. The Skeetfield Vineyard now also supplies another winemaker colleague, Rod Easthope of Easthope Family Winegrowers. We each take a few rows of these awesome old man Mendoza vines to craft in our own ways. Friends & family were called to the harvest, & in bacchanalian tradition, women music men & wine (along with some very hard working kids!) were intertwined with a beautiful autumn day. The reward lunch was exceptional & very memorable thanks Karryn Bish & Sally Gunn. Hand harvesting like this is such meaningful event. The appreciation of a years work by the grower, grapes coming off in perfect condition after many sleepless nights & devoted attention. And there is the powerful sense of a new beginning, the start of a new journey, bunches full of sweet juice & whispered promises.

Whole bunch pressed to barrel with no additions, no settling, no intervention. Indigenous ferment, allowing the native yeasts born of the vineyard to carry on the work required to transform the vines sweetness harvested from sunlight to chardonnay sublime. In the embrace of 150 year old oak staves from the centre of France (this is the average age of oak harvested for barrels), shaped by skilled hands of the Taransaud coopers, the ferment absorbs & knits the oak into the fabric of the wine, providing the bones and structure to the flesh of the wine. Rhythm & base. Destined for mid-year release 2016, this will be something for special friends.

In the meantime, enjoy the Fat n Sassy with music and friends.

Ka kite ano

Tony Bish

Tonights beverage:  Woodford Reserve on ice.

Tonights Music: Portishead ‘Dummy’


Tony Bish
Tony Bish

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