“We make wines that make people go wow”
The “WOW” factor of our wines is the high Marquis Fruit Weight ™ which is achieved through our detailed Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme ™.
Due to the intensity of our wines, people often assume that they are highly extracted, but we only ferment for 5 – 6 days. The colour and flavour profiles come from the Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™, to achieve the highest Marquis Fruit Weight™, not from long or high extraction.
During primary fermentation, when the grape sugar converts to alcohol, we ferment the grapes at temperatures as low as 14o. We taste the ferments and monitor yeast performance, cap management, colour and flavour three times per day. When the sugar level has dropped to 5 Baume we press, and immediately transfer the wine to barrel to complete primary fermentation. Although this is an expensive process, it’s worth it, as the wine has a greater capacity to absorb oak at this stage and consequently matures as much as 2 months earlier. This is also why we’re able to release our wines earlier to you.
During barrel fermentation, each barrel is monitored daily for temperature and Baume levels, to make sure the sugar levels are decreasing at the desired rate. Sarah and Sparky taste barrel ferments weekly, so we can make any necessary adjustments. When fermentation is complete (when all the sugar has been converted to alcohol), each wine is pumped from its barrel into tank with added oxygen. This opens the wine completely allowing it to expose its full fruit character.
Once the wine in tank is dry, it’s transferred into barrels of a specific oak profile. Our barrel selection programme is a very detailed process guided by Sparky. Each year, and for the last decade, Sparky has worked closely with our coopers, World Cooperage and Heinrich, to develop particular barrels to achieve very specific flavour profiles for each lot of wine. Wines from each vineyard block are kept separate, and assigned to specific barrels to achieve the desired flavour profile.
When the wine begins secondary or malolactic fermentation, which is when the malic acid is converted to the softer lactic acid, we taste representative samples every two weeks, and sometimes more often. This secondary ferment is often referred to as the “ugly stage” because the wine is disjointed and jumbly. The wine usually stays in one barrel for three months, during which time continual tasting is critical, as too much of one particular flavour can quickly throw a wine out of balance.
When the wine has finished malolactic, or had sufficient time in barrel, (when we’re lucky, these coincide), its racked from oak. Since the wine is very delicate at this time we use a blanket of carbon dioxide for protection from outside influences. Sparky then assigns a new barrel profile to each wine. There is a lot of movement in the cellar during this time, as each barrel is matched with each wine. Our team treats each barrel with as much care as they would their own furniture (since each barrel costs as much as a new couch), scrubbing and cleaning, sulphuring when necessary, marking and sorting, and then finally filling each with its new wine.
The barrels are sorted, and the wine is given time to age in order to reach the fullest level of complexity. Then beginning in November, the process begins all over again.
“Sarah and Sparky Marquis, who live by the motto,”We make wines that make people go wow – through attention to detail and commitment to excellence,” have hit pay dirt with these brilliantly packaged, screw cap-finished wines with labels that resemble Broadway vaudeville acts from the mid-thirties.”
~ Robert Parker