“Good wine is made in the vineyard.”
in the vineyard
Good wine isn’t made in the cellar, but in the vineyard. So that means that as a winemaker you must pamper your grapevines as if they were your 100.000 love children. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 12 months a year you must protect them from diseases and scary critters (by sustainable means of course), and create for them an environment of lively bio-diversity in which they will feel happy and at ease. Our vineyards are a little grape-paradise full of happy buzzing bees, merry burrowing badgers and tirelessly copulating rabbits’.
All the wines at Château La Tulipe are vinified by a team of specialist oenologists: top-oenologist Bruno Lacoste, American pinot noir expert Caroline Shipley and French oenologist and manager Paul Bordes. Every day they work together closely on the vinification of the wine with Ilja and Klaas Gort.
Over at Château La Tulipe we put a lot of energy and money in gathering the knowledge that will allow us to produce our wine in the most sustainable and honest way possible. This often means we travel down the longest and bumpiest road, but we know that organic agriculture is the only viable way forward and so these investments are of vital importance.
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It’s tough going in the cellar after the harvest has been brought in. The grapes are harvested in October. Initially we stored them in steel cuves and over the course of a two month period they have been transformed into wine. What a hectic time. But now all is calm in the wine cellar. Not a single sound to be heard (except for the winemakers’ noisy slurping of the wine).
We use oak barrels. After two months in the steel tanks the young wine moves to the oak barriques where it will remain for an aging period of 16 months. Aging wine on oak facilitates a slow maturation process, during which the wood adds subtle aromas like vanilla to the wine. As a result of this the structure of the wine becomes more complex and the flavour more nuanced. Aging on oak also adds more tannins to the wine which increases its strength and helps develop its longevity. Maturation on oak adds a gentle wood aroma to the wine and causes the tannins and colorants to mingle, which gives red wine a rich and full-bodied flavour and a deep ruby glow.
However, all this is not exactly easily done. After the oak for the barrels has been sawn into planks, it needs to air dry before it can be made into barrels (barriques). Only after three years of drying can the manufacturing process begin. Making the barrels is a very specialized craft, so it doesn’t come cheap. A new barrique (measuring 225 liters) will cost around £600. And what is more, it can only be used for three years. After they have surrendered their most beautiful wood aromas to the wine, they are sold to winemakers who don’t quite have the same standards of quality.
Assembling wine is a fine art and a sought after mark of quality in which France has a long and rich history. The blending together of different grape varieties is a delicate magicians craft that takes years of practice and the patience of a tortoise. We first need to unpick the building blocks of each individual barrel: structure, tannins, acidity, scent, colour, fruit, complexity and flavour. After a maturation process of about a year and a half, the thirty different flavours (of the thirty different plots) need to be unified into a single wine.