The Pied de Cuve wines are the result of Rhys & Alishan’s passion for and fascination with natural wines. For those not familiar with the somewhat controversial title of natural wine, these are wines that receive almost no intervention from start to finish and are therefore a pure reflection of the place, the grape and the vintage. We have named this range of wines Pied de Cuve. Pied de Cuve is a technique to start a fermentation using only the yeasts that are naturally occurring on the skin of the grapes.
About a week before harvest we picked a bucket of grapes, crushed it by foot and left it to ferment in the vineyard. It is kept in the vineyard and away from the winery so the grapes’ own yeast can start the fermentation, rather than in the winery where ambient yeast living in the winery from previous vintages could take over the fermentation.
We were excited to see any flavour differences that might occur from these natural yeasts and by using the natural vineyard yeasts we hoped to produce a wine that had even more of a sense of place. After a couple of days, the bucket was frothy and fermenting nicely. When we harvested the rest of the crop, we added the Pied de Cuve to the pressed juice to kick start the fermentation.
We wanted to make these wines in the most natural way we could using really low-tech, old-school methods. The wines were fermented in old neutral barrels (and some stainless steel for the Riesling) and left to age on the lees for over 10 months. Nothing was added or taken away from these wines. They were left to clarify naturally with time and were not fined or filtered. We chose not to use any sulfur during the winemaking and only added a very small amount prior to bottling (10ppm for the Riesling and 20ppm for the Chardonnay).
We feel these wines have a sense of place and taste of our Mulberry Tree Vineyard where they are grown. They show the true characteristics of the Similkameen Valley – ripe fruit, racy acidity, purity and minerality. With the influence of the natural ferment and lees contact there is wonderful texture and savoury complexity.