It’s hard to believe that it’s already the 23rd of March, but with the later sunrises there can be no doubt that autumn is here.
We have had 457mm of rain for the year here at the winery, with almost 300mm of this falling from the 1st of February. This obviously made ripening our Shiraz a challenge. Whilst we have battled with patchy weather throughout the growing season, the cooler season meant that ripening was both slower and later than average. With the forecast looking particularly unfavourable, the decision was made to pick as much as we could pre-rain. This decision worked out in our favour as it then proceeded to rain for two weeks straight. This decision was only able to be made due to the hard work of Kat, Chris & Remy.
Some big days for both the vineyard and winery team resulted but the effort was worthwhile, the entire cru managed to get through the work and keep a smile on their faces (albeit helped along by plenty of coffee and Snork’s fantastic fare). Particular thanks during this time must go to Loz, Hayden and Emily for keeping the ship on an even keel.
We were able to pick almost all of our Hunter Valley reds, leaving only a small parcel of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at Oakey Creek that were too damaged by the rain. We picked the last of our Shiraz on Tuesday 1st March, the latest finish for many years.
At this stage the best of the reds from the Hunter will be Graveyard Middle, 7 Acre, a small parcel of Tallawanta and Mistress. The wines are all tucked away in barrel and finishing off malolactic fermentation. Whilst it is early days, the reds have good colour and are classic medium weight Hunter Valley Shiraz, but time will tell.
Despite the rain, Semillon once again showed why it does so well in the Hunter. We have now classified our Semillon a couple of times and the results are very pleasing. We will have a full make of Hunter Valley Semillon and up to 4 separate Single Vineyard wines. Oakey Creek and Tallawanta are the favourites at this stage. The wines have great purity and freshness, the best of them will develop wonderfully over time.
Over 200mm of rain fell at Indigo in January, following on from that, February was very kind with only patchy rain recorded. This has allowed us to pick all of the Chardonnay and Pinot Gris in good condition. Whilst the Pinot Noir is also in good condition, volume is down due to a combination of frost and downy mildew. I expect small makes of high quality Indigo and Beechworth Pinot Noir.
Kate Sturgess has ably led the team down at Beechworth for the last month and we have now picked over 140t from the Indigo vineyard. The highlight at this point is the Indigo Chardonnay, with the best parcels displaying the characteristic balance of purity with fruit weight. By the end of this week we will have picked all of the Tempranillo, Sangiovese & Nebbiolo on top of the already completed Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris. Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are all in excellent condition and will come in over the next few weeks.
McLaren Vale has experienced wonderful late summer/early autumn weather, with cool nights and warm days allowing for near perfect ripening conditions for Shiraz. We picked Rayner Vineyard last Tuesday, with Wade Block scheduled for this Wednesday night. Both quality & yield look to be outstanding.
Orange also has had a cool season, with mild temperatures resulting in slow ripening and high natural acidity, therefore Forest Edge Vineyard is still a couple of weeks away.
With Easter now on the horizon, we are on the home straight in terms of fruit intake but there is still plenty of activity in the winery.
I’ll update again closer to Easter.