Time is one of the most important ingredients in winemaking, starting with selecting the right time to pick the grapes. During harvest our winemakers and viticulturists work closely together to select the vineyards, blocks and rows to be picked.
They make these decisions based on ripeness and flavour development. They pick the fruit in the cool of the day, or night to preserve the natural vibrancy in the fruit.
Our state of the art wineries are within the regions of our vineyards. A short travel time means winemaking can start only hours after the fruit is picked. Our wineries combine technology, science and tradition to enable us to craft, capture and complement the unique and pure flavours in the grapes.
Upon receival to the winery, our precision batch presses release the delicate ‘free run’ juice and gently press off the fruit.
For our white wines, temperature controlled cold settling is the most important step to prepare the juice for fermentation. Temperature controlled fermentation retains the freshness and youthful expression of the fruit. A hallmark of our white wines is lees stirring, which results in a richer texture and complexity to complement the fruit.
For our red winemaking we use specifically designed open top fermentation tanks for small batch winemaking. The open tops mean we can plunge the wine, which imparts colour, aroma and ripe fruit tannins.
Our barrel hall brings tradition to our winemaking, but technology allows us to create an ambient environment to ferment and age our Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Once again time is a key factor, giving the wines softness, structure, and complexity.
Considering we do not use a lot of oak barrels in the making of our wines, they play a big part in the Delegat story, and in complementing the character of many of our wines.
Oak barrels have been an integral part of Delegat winemaking for many decades. We were the first winery in New Zealand to ferment Chardonnay in oak barrels in the 1980s, and since these wines were widely regarded as amongst the best produced in New Zealand, we haven’t looked back.
Choosing the right barrel to match to each Delegat wine is something we take very seriously. We want to ensure the character and purity of the fruit is complemented by the oak, not overwhelmed by it. The oak and fruit should represent a sensory relationship, not two separate things.
We are constantly researching and selecting the barrels we use for our wines. It is a journey that starts in France, well in fact it started over 300 years ago, which is the average age of the oak tree the barrel is made from. These ancient, sustainably grown oak trees have tight grained wood and tannins that are found nowhere else in the world. In the wine they create structure, flavour, and distinctive aromatic characteristics. But we don’t stop there.
We travel to France to personally select the makers (Coopers) of our barrels, and then choose barrels from particular forests, wood grains, toasting levels (charring), and seasoning (drying times) for our wines.