The wine making facilities of Domaine Tawse are in Nuits St Georges, Burgundy, but our story starts in Gevrey Chambertin. It was in Gevrey in 2012 that Morey Tawse acquired the estate of Bernard Maume, whose family have been in the village since 1850. It was an astute purchase. The vines, in some spectacularly good locations, were not performing of their best, but only needed some tender loving care to unleash their true potential! Enter Chris Froome of the Cote de Nuits (aka English wine maker Mark Fincham), recruited by Moray (pure genius) to put the estate back to the top of the Gevrey Premier League.
Was to get rid of the ‘treatments’ (a misnomer if ever there was one!), allowing the freshness and vitality of the Burgundy Pinot to express itself free of chemical contamination. And each year the results just get better. Now the wines are truly outstanding - the 2015 Mazis Chambertin earning 96 points from Neil Martin. In 2015 we will be once again buying the village wine in quantity to sell under our own organic Purple Mustard label.
Now to the 2017 harvest. Our photo shoot was on 15 September in the vineyard Lavaux St Jacques, one of Gevrey's great 1er Crus. Some of the vendangeurs come from Czech - they regularly pick for Domaine Tawse, and are notable for their beautiful voices in the vineyard (and at the post harvest celebrations!) - music and wine - one enhances the senses, and the other enhances the enhancement! Bravo!!
The bunches of grapes are put into crates and driven back to the winery in Nuits. Here they pass over a sorting table to remove any that are not perfectly healthy, and are then put through a machine that removes the stems, and from there into the vat. The decision to de-stem or not, is an important stage in the process. It is the first opportunity after the grapes leave the vines, for the winemaker to make an impact on the style of the end product.
Once the fruit is in the vat, after a while, the temperature will start to rise. At 15 degrees, it will start to ferment. If the weather is cooler, the temperature will rise more gradually. Some winemakers will add yeast in order to kick start the fermentation, however Domaine Tawse rely on the natural yeasts that exist on the grape skins, which have not been destroyed by the application of synthetic chemical treatments in the vineyard. Allowing nature to take its course in the vat, means there is more opportunity for a gentle extraction of colour and tannins from the skins, pips and stems, and a harmonious integration of the tannins into the juice. The 2016 Mazis Chambertin was in the vat for almost a month before it was pressed. At the moment, Mark is waiting for the fermentation to start, and he is in the vat gently moving the contents to ensure an even evolution of the mix.
The period of alcoholic fermentation is when the winemaker creates his style of wine. Repeated and vigorous movement of the contents of the vat will increase the extraction, darken the colour of the juice, and risk too much tannin which does not fully integrate into the wine. For Mark there is no pre written script - every action is dictated by the state of the pulp. While the temperature continues to rise towards 30 degrees, the contents of the vat are continually evaluated, with some gentle pumping over and pushing down, but the main reliance is on the natural extraction process which occurs from the contact between the warming juice and the developing alcohol.