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2016 Guendulain Farm
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2016 Guendulain Farm

  • By Rachel Needoba and William Downie
  • Guendulain Farm is William (Bill) and Rachel's (Bill's wife) own family farm and vineyard located near Yarragon, Victoria, where they live with their three children.
  • Yarragon is plush dairy country with rich red volcanic soils which see around 2,200 hours of sunshine with 1000mm of rainfall each year.
  • Planted at 12-20,000 vines per hectare in Pinot Noir with a tiny amount of Gouais, this is Bill Downie's only true-estate wine (his other vineyards are under long-term contracts).
  • Guendulain Farm has only ever been worked on by man - the vineyard is far too steep in places for tractors - so all processes are done by hand or horse (retired Clydesdales).
  • The vineyard is a mix of staked and trained (trelissed) vines that have never seen any synthetic chemicals, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, ever.
  • The winemaking is as non-interventionalist as possible - fruit is harvested by hand, walked to the top of the hill where the winery is located, sorted by hand, keeping on the best whole bunches (100%), and put into a large old open top fermenter. From there the wine saw no additions, no temperature control, no pump overs, no punch downs, it was checked every day by putting a slide under a microscope, and after 30 days of being left alone it was then pressed into old oak.
  • After 11 months it was bottled straight out of the barrel, by gravity, without the use of any sulphur dioxide (SO2) or preservative.
  • Closed under natural cork, waxed and labelled by hand.
  • Only 360 bottles produced
  • Just 12 bottles allocated to New Zealand
  • As much as I'm loathe to compare one growing region to another, whenever I think of Guendulain Farm I always think of a cool-climate, energetic, clay-rich Burgundian expression of Pinot Noir. This site has an energy and purity unlike no other, and in Bill and Rachel's capable hands they manage to capture this and put it to bottle. There are just a handful of wines in the world that are as expressive and energetic as this.