Dan Buckle, ex-winemaker of Mount Langi Ghiran and current winemaker at Domaine Chandon, has a hobby. It is called Circe and it consists of the tiniest private label of a pair of Pinots and a Chardonnay.
He and partner Aaron Drummond started their dream in 2010, a stunning vintage, and only a smithereen of this stock has made it to the UK. The 2011 vintage was a whole new kettle of fish. The weather was so bad that a number of producers in Mornington didn’t even make a wine. Dan said that he saw botrytis growing on the grapes before his very eyes. But, as it always the case, with staggeringly talented winemakers if you select only the finest fruit and treat it with the utmost respect you can work miracles and this is what he has done.
Half whole bunch, half cold soak, some saignée to concentrate the flavour a touch, minimal new oak intervention and you have one of the most wistful and thought-provoking wines of the year.
I opened this cuvée for a group of highly sophisticated sommeliers and they were aghast at the delicacy and beauty in their glasses. It just goes to show that when the tables are turned and the weather turns Biblical, you better bloody well know what you are doing and be prepared to make some very fast judgement calls to save your wines. Some do, some don’t and a very few make something altogether unforgettable.