The 2017 vintage gave me the opportunity to play with some techniques which were topical at the I4C conference which I attended last summer in Niagara. I chose to hyper-oxidize all my press pan juice, in particular our Chardonnay, to great effect.
Hyper-ox, as it is referred to in Burgundy, is the process of “pre-oxidizing” grape juice before it is turned into wine. This process is meant to fix volatile flavour and colour compounds so they cannot further oxidize and change as the wine ages. This must treatment allows finished wine to achieve an intense colour, express itself, and open up much earlier. This makes for far more “stable” wines as they are already “pre-oxidized”, but not to a fault as they would have been in their vinous form.
Further to this, hyper-ox allows winemakers to refrain from adding sulphur to the unfermented must. I use an extremely low sulphur regimen in the winery as it is, with hyper-ox I only make two small additions – once after the second post-ferment racking and a small top-up before bottling. This process allows for sulphur to be used as a careful tool instead of a “silver bullet” preventative method.
I am already finding all of our wines to be intensely aromatically expressive and extremely flavourful on release this spring. I anticipate them only becoming more intensely open as summer continues.