Garth talks wine geek about the creation of Vino Volta "Beneath the Flor" 2018 Chenin Blanc
Inspiration from Andalusia and Jura.
Chenin Blanc is a versatile grape that retains acidity and naturally exhibits apple and citrus flavours. This makes it reflect both the terroir that it is grown within and winemaker influence. Interestingly it has a parent / offspring relationship with Savagnin from Jura that very much has a history of being matured under flor. More locally we had the pleasure of tasting a Chenin blanc based amontilado from the 50's that had been made by Jack Mann in the Swan Valley. While not looking at its best there was enough interest to show that there was potential in this project.
Part wine / Part fino. Our aim was to make a wine with fruit brightness but with secondary flor derived characters. After primary fermentation clarified but unsulphured Chenin was filled to barrel and matured in a warmish cellar. The difference here is that conventionally barrels are matured with bung in and with no ullage. In this case barrels were filled to around 90% of their capacity and had their bungs replaced with cheese cloth. These barrels were regularly monitored but never topped - not looking after ullages is a cardinal sin in traditional winemaking.
This is where the magic happens. The flor yeast have modified cell walls with high fatty acid content that both helps them resist the toxicity of alcohol and enables them to float on the surface of the wine. This protects the wine from oxidation and maintains its freshness. Ethanol is metabolised to acetaldehyde contributing nutty and apple flavours. Glycerol is also metabolised changing the mouthfeel of the wine making it less viscous and accentuating freshness and saline characters. Other chemical changes in the wine contribute spice, toast and dough characters.
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