2011 was the year of great Chardonnay for us, both in terms of quality and quantity. The red grapes were soaked by rain at flowering, so we lost half the potential fruit load through lack of pollination. The Chardonnay, however, flowered earlier in the warm dry days of early May, thanks mainly to a very summery April amid an 8 week period of cloudless skies and beaming sunshine.
We picked the Chardonnay later than most of our neighbouring vineyards, as the load was significant requiring longer to reach perfect ripeness. We risked the possible drop in acid levels by letting the fruit hang until the end of October to get the natural sugar levels up. Nevertheless, the gamble paid off, with a heavy load of clean ripe fruit, with perfect sugars and acidity, as reward. The red grapes were delivered to the winery, a week later still, in perfect shape: an even bigger gamble in some respects.
This outstanding Chardonnay harvest allowed us to make our first Blanc de Blancs. The smaller fruit load on the Pinot Noir & Meunier, a consequence of the poor fruit set, had provided a natural green harvest which, combined with the very late harvest, allowed good ripe fruit to be delivered to the winery. Emboldened by the high quality of the red fruit, we produced an almost entirely Pinot-driven dark rosé, with a hint of oak age, now in the cellar and named: Mayfield Midnight.