It’s fair to say we take a traditional approach to our red winemaking, with a nod to the cru classé of Bordeaux. For Pascal, the aim is to treat the fruit as gently as possible. All of our reds are hand harvested and sorted twice, first by cluster and then painstakingly sorted berry by berry after being gently removed from the harsh, bitter stems. Typically, Don and Pascal are the last one’s on the line, as a final check before the fruit comes into the winery. The blueberry-like fruit is then placed into tank by gravity for fermentation. No leaves, no stems, no jacks.
Each fermentation tank is used only once per vintage. This is not as common as you’d think. Most wineries will turn over a tank two or three times, as tank space is often precious. But substantial time is required in tank to reach our desired flavour and tannin profile. After a cold-soak pre-fermentation, the wine undergoes an extended maceration on the skins after fermentation for as long as 24 days. The result is almost counter-intuitive: softer wines with plush, velvety tannins. The aim is for Hypothesis to be approachable in its youth, while maintaining the structure to allow it to be tucked away in the cellar.
This explains why we’re not finished pressing off our red lots for what will become the 2015 Hypothesis. Last week, it was Tank 7, Cabernet Franc, in the traditional basket press. The basket press is time consuming – as the view from my window can attest – with lower yields, but it is much more gentle. The pressed wine is then fed by gravity into barrel, where it will spend approximately 16 months slumbering with the other Hypothesis lots.
This Cabernet Franc lot, only weeks after fermentation, shows the quality of the 2015 vintage, with remarkable concentration, depth, and varietal definition.