Colour in Paul Cluver Chardonnay
Colour in white wine come from a polyphenol called flavonoid (flavus = yellow in Latin) which is found in the skin of the grape. Flavonoid levels appear to be a linked to sunlight exposure and ripeness levels. Bunches exposed to the sun tend to have higher flavonoid levels. Wines made from very ripe grapes tend to be more yellow in colour. Studies undertaken in Australia have not found a correlation between flavonoid levels and wine quality.
Of the white grape varieties, Chardonnay has particularly high levels of flavonoids and shows great increase in flavonoids when the bunches are exposed to direct sunlight.
In Elgin, due to our cool climate and less sunlight hours per day in the growing season we tend to have lower flavonoid levels in our Chardonnay.
Winemaking practices like skin contact of grapes prior to pressing, addition of press juice and oxidative winemaking style will also have an influence on the levels of flavonoids and can lead to an increase in yellow colour in wine.
At Paul Cluver, the Chardonnay is made in a more classic, elegant style. Skin contact and oxidation is kept to the minimum. Consequently the wines have less flavonoids and will present itself with a slight bright green tint rather than a yellow one like some wines from other new world wine countries.