March 22, 2011
Vintage kicked off last week on the 15th March with an acre of Chardonnay at Hillcrest Road destined for sparkling – the 2011 Circe Cuvee Blanc de Blancs. Whole bunch pressed, we will bottle 1600 bottles, making this one of the smallest Single Vineyard cuvees of high quality sparkling in the country. It will be years on lees before release.
Fruit was in terrific condition thanks to the quite severe and extensive thinning we had done in the weeks prior. The disease pressure this year has been extraordinary, with significant rain events around Christmas and New Year giving perfect fungus conditions. As I write, many Victorian vineyards are leafless and otherwise not yielding at all.
A combination of new and old technologies has allowed us to get through this. Elemental sulphur sprays – listed as organic and not residual keep the powdery mildew at bay. A new product called Peratec has also been instrumental in the reduction of disease. This is a peroxide based product which has strong antimicrobial effects, which breaks down to water and oxygen within hours. No residue is left behind.
The Chardonnay at Hillcrest Road is currently 10.2 Baume and waiting until next week for harvesting. I would like to see some nectarine flavours develop, and last Sunday there was a slight green, grassy flavour towards the bottom of the rows – it needs a little more time. We might pick this on Monday or Tuesday next week. The Pinot noir looks terrific, and has had its final thinning. Berry size is slightly high, but bunch size looks normal and the skins are relatively thick. There are already some good flavours there and we look forward to welcoming our friends to picking on Sunday 3rd April.
A difficult year in terms of weather, however this is normal and indeed there may still be some Indian summer around the corner. The chance to make some really great wine is very high in fact, for two reasons. Firstly, the grapes do product some flavour compounds in response to disease pressure, or to put that differently, some disease response products in grapes have positive flavour attributes. And long, cool seasons slows up the sugar accumulation, but allows for the further development of grape flavours. This is the reason cool climate grapegrowing is so good after all.