The Grape Harvest
Choosing the right date for the grape harvest is vital to the quality of the wines that will be made from it.
At Domaine La Madura, it is determined by a number of factors:
- Tasting the grapes: this is the overriding factor.
- Results of ripeness tests, i.e. tests carried out on grapes taken from the various plots at regular intervals
- Keeping an eye on the health of the harvest
- Weather forecasts
For red grapes, the aim is to pick them slightly over-ripe to obtain the aromatic complexity that comes from really ripe grapes and, above all, smooth tannins that are easy to extract.
As far as the white grapes are concerned, these are picked when there is still plenty of acidity and the aromas have reached a good level of maturity. This helps to retain aromatic freshness and finesse. The "window" during which the grapes are at their best is very short, and a great deal of care and speed is needed when it is time to harvest them. This is a crucial moment for the quality of the white wines.
The grapes are hand-picked by local seasonal workers, so the grapes are sorted in the vineyard and placed in crates to reduce the effects of packing down, prevent oxidation and ensure that they are taken quickly to the cellarsthat there is always a team of people available to fit in with the needs of the moment.
For the red grapes, the crates are emptied directly into the de-stemmer/crusher. The crushed grapes are then taken to various tanks, depending on where they have come from (variety/soil). This keeps a maximum number of options open for selection during the blending process.
The white grapes are poured directly into the press, where they are pressed very gently to obtain a clear, high-quality must. Slow pressing also allows a slight whole-grape maceration to occur.
The red wines are vinified in a fairly traditional manner, the aim being to bring out and exploit the potential of each plot. They are therefore adjusted to each grape variety and "terroir". The key factor here is daily tasting throughout the fermentation period, which can last from 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the wine. Various extraction techniques are used according to the stage of vinification and the quality of the harvest: "pigeage" (punching of the cap), "remontage" (traditional pumping-over), "délestage" (removal of solids) or nitrogen stirring.
For cask-matured wines, malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrel. The wines are then matured on the lees and will stay in the barrel until the next harvest.
The white wines are fermented after the must has been carefully racked. Part of the harvest is fermented in barrels, while the rest is fermented in temperature-controlled tanks.
Video by Dominique Boudet: click here
Maturing the Wines
La Madura Grand Vin Red:
The richest reds are barrel-matured for 12 months.
The lees are kept at the end of malolactic fermentation in the barrels to make the wines even fuller and smoother.
Small amounts of oxygen are regularly added by micro-bubbling to aerate the wine. This is adjusted according to the tasting results for each batch.
La Madura Classic Red:
These reds are mostly matured in the tank on fine lees and regularly aerated. The process is again guided by tasting. This method of maturing preserves the aromas of certain wines, such as those made with Grenache, and also helps in the search for smooth tannins.
La Madura Grand Vin White:
After fermentation in the barrel, part of the white wine is kept on its lees. The barrels are stirred throughout the 10-month maturing period. This gives them elegance, richness, a long finish and, above all, increased potential for laying down.
La Madura Classic White:
The rest of the white wine is matured in the tank. After fermentation, the lees are retained and regularly kept in suspension to increase the wine's volume. This helps to obtain rich wines that are more aromatic in their early days than barrel-matured wines.
Following this maturing process, the estate's wines have good stability and are clear enough to bypass the fining and filtering processes, or at least keep them to a minimum, thus retaining their full potential.
The reds are not fined. The whites are very gently fined with bentonite to avoid the risk of protein breakdown.
The reds are not filtered, while the whites are very slightly filtered to retain their full potential.
Weather and temperature variations may occasionally lead to the formation of a slight deposit on the bottom of the bottle. This is perfectly natural.
Video by Dominque Boudet: click here