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.
Although both batches of skin-contact Gewürztraminer were treated and fermented identically, the grapes come from very different vineyards. Located on a granite slope on the Skaha Bluff, The Con Vida Vineyard is like a giant reflective ‘sun dish’ that generates early ripening and ultra-ripe fruit. The vines are now 32 year-old and produce tiny, tight bunches. 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.
We decided to release the two as a duo with the purpose of them being tasted side-by-side so as to highlight the significance of vineyard site in a wine’s flavours and characteristics. You will find some similarities but also marked differences. Preferences are subjective but we intend for these wines to spark interesting conversations with your friends, family or colleagues as you compare and contrast how they’re similar - and how they differ!
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%
Con Vida Vineyard, Skaha Bluffs.
The Con Vida Vineyard, located on the beautiful Skaha Bluff, is now 30 years old and producing tiny, tight bunches of fruit. The Skaha Bluff is an amazing micro-climate, sitting just below a massive granite face of the bluff which acts as a big heat sink, intensifying the summer heat of our desert climate.
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.
- Both sets of 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 wines are unfined, unfiltered and were bottled by hand in June 2019.
Con Vida Gewürztraminer: This stunning amber-orange coloured wine has a subtle rose gold hue into the light. Aromas of Indian fennel candy and blood orange Amaro are absolutely radiant and underscored by a floral, citrusy, bergamot-like note. The palate has a viscous mouthfeel and abounds with rose petal, Tulsi tea and cracked coriander flavours. A refreshing finish, highlighted by hints of ginger syrup and grapefruit marmalade, immediately entices another sip.
Hagerman Gewürztraminer: 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.