The Picardy vineyard is situated on a gentle north facing slope at an altitude of 300 metres and 35 kilometres from the Southern Ocean. The site was specially selected by Bill Pannell for its well-drained loam/gravel soils. Bill felt that this site would be perfectly suited to the production of high quality cool climate wines; in particular Pinot Noir.
The Burgundian Clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
During Bill's and Sandra's involvement in a domaine in Burgundy in the 1980s, they became aware of a substantial clonal selection trial, which had been carried out for more than a decade. Several hundred selections of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay taken from many of the Domaines in Burgundy were trialled. Of these, four Chardonnay (76, 95, 96 and 277) and 3 Pinot Noir clones (114, 115 and 777) were selected. The Pannells have now imported a further 5 clones of Pinot from Burgundy. These clones were chosen on the basis of the quality of wine produced from them, rather than yield. Friends in Burgundy advised Bill and Sandra to plant a mix of all of the clones to increase the complexity of the resulting wines. Observations to date suggest that there is considerable variation among the eight clones with respect to growth habits, bunch size, yields, flavour and wine structure. The importation of new Pinot Noir clones is a work in progress. The Sauvignon Blanc (3 clones), Semillon, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also special selections, chosen with the same emphasis on quality in mind.
The vines have been close planted to promote competition and maximize root depth and trained low to enable them to use heat radiating from the gravelly soils in the evenings. This effectively extends the duration of the growing and ripening time per day. Within the sustainable vineyard practices, the Pannell Family believe in “growing soils”. To obtain a naturally healthy soil, cover crops such as clover and annual grasses are used and composted with the vine prunings, thereby building soil structure. This practice also opens up and aerates the soil. Picardy also practices a non-cultivation policy which is beneficial in preserving the soil structure, builds soil carbon and helps to improve and maintain a healthy worm and microbe population. Viticultural techniques such as Vertical Shoot Positioning trellis, shoot thinning, hedging, and leaf plucking are undertaken in the entire vineyard to keep maximum air flow through the vine canopy. The vines are crop thinned at veraison to obtain the preferred crop load. Prior to vintage, any damaged fruit is also eliminated, thus ensuring only the best fruit is harvested. All Picardy grapes are hand harvested to ensure the utmost quality. In this manner the sorting is done in the vineyard so that no extra handling is needed in the winery.