Crafting wine in a special way is paramount to Chris Daniel winery. Implementing the same wine making practices used by French winemakers in Chile and France, condensed to a micro scale, ensures an attention to detail that is shown in a unique and complex wine. Fermenting wine in oak barrels is a seldom used process because it requires more effort, diligence, and time. This allows for a meticulous method of wine making from beginning to end. The heads of oak barrels are removed and used as small fermenters, which allow for temperature
manipulation, yeast, and the simultaneous integration of oak at the beginning of fermentation. Each fermenter is unique and adds to the complexity and character of the wine. The intent being to smooth and hone the wine to achieve softer and more mouth coating tannins.
Choosing the best grapes is the first step to creating an unforgettable wine. The grapes at Chris Daniel Winery are sourced from vineyards that Michael consults on. Every week, the vines and grapes are monitored during the growing season and are hand harvested at the optimal time to ensure that the grapes are of the highest quality of texture and taste. The grapes are then sorted to remove all stems, leaves, and any material other than the grape (MOG). They are sorted to limit the integration of non-berry phenolics
and the production of aldehydes that can create bitter or herbaceous flavors within the wine. Further, any fruit that fails to meet the highest of standards is removed. Less grapes are yielded; however, the smallest number of undesirable grapes can diminish the character of the wine.
wine so they are kept in contact with as much of the wine as possible. Gravity is used instead of a pump to protect the wine during transfer, because even the best pumps can damage the wine. Treating the wine gently is essential during this process to yield the finest results.
A traditional practice used in Northern Rhone Valley (also called The Land of French Syrah) of co-fermenting Syrah and Viognier is applied to the wine as well. Whole clusters of Viognier are added to each Syrah fermenter at the rate of 2 to 3 percent. The floral, spice and peach notes of Viognier are added to the Syrah improving the mouthfeel. Viognier also
improves color. Although it lacks red color producing anthocyanins, it contains cofactors that assist in binding color anthocyanins of the Syrah.
Directly after the red wine grapes are de-stemmed, five to ten percent of the juice is siphoned (a process called saignée) to concentrate the remaining juice. The siphoned off juice is not lost, of course. It is fermented to make an exquisite Rosé. The saignée process concentrates the wine by removing juice before color and tannins seep into the wine.
Grapes are whole berry fermented, meaning only the stem is removed and the rest of the grape is unaltered. This allows for a slow release of flavors to intensify the fruity character of the wine, while reducing the amount of seed tannin in the wine. The wine is then aged for six months Sur lie (French for On the Lees). The lees are yeast cells left over from fermentation that continue to break down, releasing components that develop the complexity of the wine and soften the mouthfeel. Each week the settled lees are stirred (or Bâttonage) into the