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The Blending Blog - behind the scenes with our winemakers

March is a busy month in our winery as our winemakers, Jacob and Zoë, have been hard at work blending the wines from Black Chalk's 2023 vintage, a task that encapsulates both challenge and creativity.

Here at Black Chalk, our philosophy is clear: every bottle tells a story of the year it was crafted. While many wineries opt for reserve blends, we pride ourselves on our commitment to producing solely vintage wines, allowing us to capture the essence of each unique growing year.

Across our vineyards, we grew 34 different clone and rootstock combinations and we treat as many as we can separately. That goes for picking clone by clone at harvest time, as well as pressing, fermenting and storing. We also use different strains of yeast according to each clone profile.

Because of this approach, our winemakers aren't "bound" by a predetermined recipe for any of our wines, which is where the mammoth (and fun!) task of blending comes in.

With such a rich tapestry of components at their disposal, Jacob and Zoë meticulously taste through each, noting their characteristics and flavour profiles. They then begin to blend the components together, with the ultimate goal of creating wines which showcase the purity of the fruit, as well as beautiful balance.

A final blend can be agreed within the first few attempts, or (and far more often is the case!) it can take many more attempts before Jacob and Zoë agree on the perfect balance. In total, blending our two sparkling and two still Black Chalk wines can take around two weeks.

The 2023 vintage presented its own set of characteristics and challenges. The classic blend for example has a whopping 29 components, each bringing its own flavour to the mix. 2023 on the whole was an interesting year, with notably low acidity, so there was no need for malolactic fermentation (where harsh malice acids in the wine are converted to softer lactic acids). Chardonnay, in particular, thrived in 2023 and we also found that our clone combinations stood out individually, more so than they have in other years. This diversity laid the foundation for an exciting array of small parcels, each bursting with different personalities. Blending our 2023 was a lot of fun and we can't wait until we can share these wines with you, albeit, in a few years!


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