For more than a decade now I have been intrigued by the use of whole bunches in red winemaking (and occasionally white winemaking!).
Objectively, with Pinot Noir at least, it is a way to achieve some wonderful aromatic qualities as well as structure to the palate. It is a winemaking direction that is all about longevity, structure and long term complexity. I would describe the ‘style’ as cerebral, even intellectual. Whole bunch wines do not come to you, you must go to them. The resulting styles are viewed by some as difficult and even polarising. Winemakers who truly walk this path often describe their use of whole bunches with references to classicism, tradition and longevity. They never refer to fashion, scores or the market. These are wines made without compromise and a belief in the right path. I believe it to be a ‘noble’ path, one for the ‘true believers’.
Subjectively, the use of 100% whole bunches is a beautiful way to make wine. You are doing things as they have been done for centuries, even thousands of years. It is as if you are channelling the winemaking ancients and going in a direction that has existed from the beginning. It is perhaps a little quixotic but where would wine be if there were no romantics chasing windmills? It is just fruit, vat and feet….simple…traditional…beautiful.
I don’t add enzymes, yeasts, colour additives, or tannin additives, nor do I use the assortment of fining agents available ranging from isinglass (fish guts), egg whites, skim milk or PVPP. I just add a friendly amount of Sulfur, just as the Monks of Burgundy, and the Romans before them, did. It is after all, the winemaker’s friend.