Gewürztraminer - which is actually a pinkish, even red colour - is rarely left on its skins. The variety's intense phenolics (the things that make it so exquisitely perfumed) are also prone to making wine bitter. In the fun and experimental spirit of Chic Fille, however, we decided to challenge conventional wisdom and see for ourselves...
Putting aside a small lot of fully intact Gewürztraminer to soak on its skins. We vigilantly tasted the juice each day and, to our delight, found it kept tasting better and better. After one full week on skins, natural fermentation finally kicked in - courtesy of wild yeasts - and we allowed the juice to soak a couple days more, for a total of nine days on skins. We were so thrilled with the results of this first mini experiment (using fruit from our Con Vida Vineyard) that we replicated the process again with grapes from our This Is It Vineyard.
Our This Is It Vineyard is planted on the highest spot of a higher altitude parcel on the Naramata Bench. This is a very cool location so the grapes ripen slowly and retain a great amount of acidity - Gewürztraminer has the lowest acidity of any grape and loses it quickly, so the cooler temperature makes a big difference.
As with all Chic Fille wines, these are natural wines - ambiently fermented, unfined, and have only minimal sulphur additions before bottling. Production is very small and quantities extremely limited.
Curious to learn more about orange wine? Read our journal entry
Chic Fille is a fun, experimental project made by JoieFarm winemaker Heidi Noble and apprentice winemaker Alyssa Hubert. It was initiated by a keen interest to learn and teach at JoieFarm and inspired by Heidi’s desire to revisit techniques that she used when first teaching herself how to make wine.
This on-going series highlights innovative, improvisational, and collaborative winemaking over the course of each vintage, often using singular techniques such as native fermentation, lees contact, skin contact, and semi-carbonic ferments. These wines distinctly reflect vintage, variety and vineyard site.
Chic Fille are natural wines: ambiently fermented, unfined, and have only minimal sulphur additions before bottling. Production is very small and quantities extremely limited.
Varietal: Gewürztraminer 100%
This Is It Vineyard, Naramata.
This Gewürztraminer came from a very high and cool bench part of the “This is It” Vineyard. Although a late-harvest pick, the fruit wonderfully retained its acidity (which is unusual as Gewürztraminer is naturally low in acid and can lose it dangerously quick). The late pick also helped for our purposes because, while the grape's skins are very thick, they do thin and refine as the season progresses.
- The grapes were de-stemmed, crushed and soaked seven days skins-to-juice in 500 L open-top fermenters before ambient fermentation began. The juice fermented a further two days on skins in our 16°C cellar. It was pressed off at 18 Brix and the must was moved to a stainless steel tank to finish its ferment (which lasted a total of three weeks). The wine was left to quietly settle all winter and let any suspended solids fall to the bottom. It was then racked three times over the course of eight months. The wine is unfined and unfiltered.
- Inviting aromas of rose petal, turkish delight and quince give way to delightful white tea, ginger, fennel candy and heritage apple flavours. The palate has a savoury and somewhat botanical dimension, with citrusy and pine-y undertones reminiscent of fresh Pacific Northwest hops. The wine has a cooked quince colour that is utterly dazzling held against a sunny backdrop.