Wines lie at rest, aging in French oak barrels for 18-26 months sur lie at optimal controlled temperatures and humidity in our wine caves. For added complexity, we age wines in barrels sourced from a variety of Coopers with the barrels toasted at varying levels (barrel heads are never toasted). Favorite Coopers include Darnajou; Taransaud; Demptos; Ermitage; Suary; Bel Air; and Sylvain. Each year one or two Coopers are added to the mix and evaluated for potential use. Oak is sourced principally from center of France forests including the Vosges, Tronçais, Nievre and Allier.
Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in 70-80% new oak with the remainder in seasoned barrels used for no more than two vintages. Nicole’s Proprietary Red sees 100% new oak each vintage. Ermitage crafts a custom barrel for our Sauvignon Blanc, called Samantha’s Barrel.
During aging our wines are hand stirred every week during secondary (malolactic) fermentation by opening each barrel and using a battonage rod to lift the lees and encourage full character development. Following secondary fermentation, battonage is continued and the wines are gently clarified by manual racking of each barrel according to individual barrel regimens developed by the winemaking team specific to each lot. Racking is dirty (with lees) for the first year, then clean (without lees) for the remaining months. Our red wines are bottled unfiltered to maintain purity of expression and character.