LEVIN WINES: Vintage 2019

Levin Wines have just completed Vintage 2019 - a very busy time across the vineyards! Lynne Levin explains:

“The process of vintage might seem mysterious, but for organic, low intervention wineries like us, most of the work is done throughout the season, with fermentation beginning naturally with yeasts that live in the vineyard.

An advantage of having 19 vineyards across in three different villages and various vine age between 3-38 years old, means that each parcel ripens at different times over 3-week vintage. So, we use a flexible local picking team to respond as soon as the grapes are ready.

 As well as certified organic vineyards, LEVIN Wines is certified organic in the winery. Since we are organic, we can’t introduce any chemical inputs to cover up any mistakes!

 We take a clean, ‘new world’ approach in the winery to allow the characters of the fruit to be fully expressed. That is why out winery looks like an Aussie tin shed – it is a replica of the Shaw + Smith winery in South Australia.

 We work with our Loire-born, organic winemaker, Emmanuel Bienvenu to decide on picking and approaches in the winery driven by physiological ripeness, flavour and the biodynamic calendar (fruit and leaf days). This is the time of the year that Emmanuel is eager to capture all the hard work, preparation and character of the vintage.

Through the year, we rely on cover crops and companion planting to introduce trace elements back into soils, strictly limited use of organic copper sulphate spray when needed. It’s all about the preparation.

 During vintage, we do baume tests on every vineyard – picking 100 grapes from along the vine rows – crushing them by hand and using the refractometer to check the baume or sugar which is the potential alcohol. And, check the acidity, which reduces as the sugar increases – we want that in balance.

And, we all taste the juice and grapes from each parcel, again and again. The baume and acidity should be correct, but the flavour is most important – we imagine how each unique parcel will add to the final blend.

We use a local team of pickers from Montrichard, who have gotten to know our vineyards over the years. They hand pick with secateurs into small buckets and carried in ‘hotte’ to make sure we preserve the berries and aromatics. The grapes are hand sorted on a table at the vineyard, making it to the winery with an hour of being picked.

At the winery, they are sorted again into the destemmer and chilled before entering the press, ensuring only pristine grapes are crushed and no oxidative characters develop.

Instead of the open topped concrete fermenters generally used in the region, temperature is carefully controlled in our small batch stainless steel fermenters, keeping parcels separate, so after fermentation we can assemble a harmonious blend.

Temperature controlled stainless steel fermenters allow cold stabilisation, very cool ferment and fine-tuning of the aromatic and alcoholic fermentation using natural yeasts.

We begin fermentation process at 10ºC and increased to 18ºC, usually over 10 days. After tasting again, we might chill to 8ºC to ‘stress’ the yeasts to maximise the aromatics. Over the course of a month, it was first increased to 18ºC and then 20ºC to finish aromatic fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation is completed over approximately 12 days.

For fining, we only use bentonite clay (rather than isinglass or egg whites), so the wines remain vegan throughout production.”