Letter From Hank
|de-stemming & pressing Norton|
We finished harvest last week, which was the longest duration of any harvest we have ever had. Most years, we finish the middle of October, but the extra time this year was to allow flavors to develop even more in the Norton grapes. This approach seems to have paid off. This year our Norton is the deepest, inkiest looking Norton that I believe we have ever produced. The red wines go through a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation, in which malic acid is converted to lactic acid, a weak acid found in milk. A test known as paper chromatography is used to determine whether or not an individual wine has completed malolactic fermentation. This is accomplished by putting a large drop of each wine on a specially treated paper. The position of an additional dot in the column above each dot measures the degree to which malolactic fermentation has progressed. Yesterday, Mark brought the current test page to my office to show me with glee that all of our Chambourcins have now completed malolactic fermentation and that our Nortons are well on the way.
There are some wines that go through fermentation and almost immediately are ready to be “cleaned up” and bottled. Our Rose is one of those wines. In fact, yesterday Mark brought me the finished Rose, ready to go in the bottle. This is Rose of Chambourcin, which was picked about a month ago. We will bottle this wine in the next 30 days, and it should be available for release in early 2014.A few weeks ago, a wonderful opportunity presented itself. Chaumette was able to purchase one of the most important historic buildings in Ste. Genevieve.
|The historic Bequette Ribault House|
The Bequette Ribault House was built around 1790 and is one of only three post-in-ground buildings in Ste. Genevieve, and I’m told perhaps one of four in the northern hemisphere. Ste. Genevieve was settled by French Acadians who brought their building techniques to Canada from their native Northern France. Their houses were built in 2 styles: vertical logs resting on a horizontal beams, “poteaux sursolle,” and the much more rare “poteaux en terre,” which means that the vertical logs are placed directly in the ground. Some people find it hard to believe that a wooden post can remain in the ground for more than 200 years and not rot. In the case for French colonial “poteaux en terre” houses in Ste. Genevieve, red cedar was used for the logs and after about 50 or 60 years, wood “in ground” becomes unappetizing to termites, particularly the heartwood of cedar.
It is our plan to restore the Bequette – Ribault House and have it ready for tours for the spring season of 2014. When I was with the Director of the Office of Historic Preservation in Jefferson City two weeks ago, he stated that the Bequette – Ribault House is one of the most important buildings in the state of Missouri. We are excited to have this special building as part of Chaumette. To restore it and open it for viewing is part of our contribution to the city of Ste. Genevieve. For more info, click here for an article written by The Ste. Genevieve Herald.I have another exciting thing to report: we sent three of our wines to the San Diego International Wine Competition this year. Our Unoaked Chardonel won a gold medal, and our Reserve Chardonel and Reserve Chambourcineach won a silver medal. We are particularly proud of this accomplishment, because these wines were chosen out of 898 entries from around the world in one of the most prominent wine competitions in the United States. Click here for more info about the
Sunday night the twenty seventh of October, we had our first collaborative chef event. Lou Rook III, Executive Chef of Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield and widely known chef personality came to Chaumette with his Sous Chef and Pastry Chef and worked with Chef Adam to produce one of the most memorable meals we have had. The food was laudatory, guests made it a point at the end of the meal to tell me how much they enjoyed the evening and how special the food was.
I was particularly proud of the service that Chaumette provided. Our Events Director Keith King oversaw the service of the event, and I will say that it was probably the best service that Chaumette has ever provided. The attention to detail was perfection and made a huge contribution to the delightful atmosphere of the evening. Good work Adam, Lou Rook and Keith and all of our culinary and service staff!
We hope to see you this Saturday evening at our Annual Autumn Winemaker’s Dinner, ~ Chef Adam offers Thanksgiving take-out dinners this year!
Hank Johnson, Owner