Fining kept to a minimum at our Nelson winery

Japanese Sommelier Kouichiro Yamada loving our Nelson boutique wines

To a large extent fining, the process of eliminating unwanted materials in the wine, is a matter of taste.

Different people have different thresholds on bitterness. My threshold is very low and I used to remove any hint of a bitter aftertaste. But when you fine to take out bitterness you also lose flavour and colour.

When we started making our wines we got a couple of comments that our Sauvignon looked like water and I started to wonder whether we’re over-fining? In the international judging world it’s not just about the actual bitterness: If you’ve got a lot of flavour, mid palate and nice colour then the judges would say ‘okay it is a little bit bitter but it can handle that bitterness because it is a big wine’. And that’s our philosophy now. We try not to fine unless we really have to. And we can do that because of our gravity-fed winery and our choice to reduce processes.

This is the whole thing about gentle wine making – we don’t over-press and we don’t do extra pumping. Every time you pump or press the juice or wine it’s a rubbing motion and that basically creates bitterness. By simplifying our processing steps we have very limited bitterness pick up and as a consequence we don’t have to fine, apart from using Bentonite clay to extract the proteins. It means our wines don’t have the classic fining agents added such as fish, milk or egg extracts, so we can offer a wine that’s a very natural, vegan friendly product, produced with minimal additives.

My choice is to make wines that reflect each year’s grapes and by reducing finings we’re ensuring the least impact on that natural flavour.