What style is utilized at Chateau Thomas Winery?
How are Chateau Thomas Wines different and why? First of all, we source our grapes from New World style vineyards on the West coast (California, Oregon, and Washington State). These grapes have what most European premium grapes don’t have, abundant sunlight, deep soil, and a warm growing season. That allows the grape to achieve full maturity with abundant sugars to produce whatever alcohol level the winemaker prefers in his wines. I regard the increased sugar and potentially higher alcohol to be a minor benefit for New World grapes since I don’t care for wines with 15 or 16% alcohol. The primary benefits are the increased fruitiness, color, richer antioxidants, flavor, and aromas that are found in these grapes versus grapes found in the Old World. The same is generally true for grapes grown in the Midwest and the Eastern U.S. From its very inception, Chateau Thomas has pledged to use only vinifera (Old World) grapes sourced from sunny, New World vineyards. But, the means of delivering those grapes to our winery is part of our Old-World history of 33 years. We have perfected the practice of shipping fresh grapes across the country for wine-making, dating back to 1989. We were also the first in Indiana and (perhaps the Midwest) to utilize Ozone for winery sterilization and sanitation; which is now an industry standard.
Wine-making is the second manner by which Old World traditions are utilized. We sort our fruit; crushing our fruit; or by whole-berry fermentation; fermentation in tanks or in small containers depending on the wine; barrel-fermenting of some white wines; extended maceration after fermentation, pressing by either basket or tank press; barrel-aging of reds and some whites; selective blending; and judicious filtering. There are some wines that are made without ever being pumped. The entire process being carried out by gravity! We have barrel-aged several of our premium reds for 3 years in the recent past in order to achieve the best taste. So, we still stick to Old World wine-making of our New World wine.
A related issue I have alluded to in the past, is the apparent divergence of styles. The wine-making style of New World wines is coursing ever more closely to wines designed for competitions and for consumption as a cocktail beverage with obtrusively higher alcohols, but without the underlying structure that allows long-term maturation. Conversely, Old World wines are still made with lower alcohol levels in the 12-13.5% range, softer tannins, and that are food-friendly. Wine is still a food and is best enjoyed with food.
We hope you make it a point to taste and savor our remarkable wines for your table.
– Charles Thomas, MD.