As you can see, autumn is here. All the grapes have been harvested and we are waiting for the leaves to fall from the vines before we begin pruning.
It has been a challenging season, to say the least. The lush growth in the vine rows that you can see in the picture here gives some idea of the rainfall we have experienced. In a "normal" year, this grass wouldn't exist. Instead, we would have a brown, dried-up sward and in some parts of the vineyard, there would be no cover at all on the soil. So while we have battled the rain, the overall vineyard health has never been better. This should lead to a great season next year....
In the meantime, here's an update on the 2011 wines:
Fume Blanc--quietly maturing in barrel, looking very crisp, passionfruity and long. We plan to bottle in July, a little earlier than in 2010 to give the wine time to settle down in the bottle.
Chardonnay--there is a lot of talk amongst winemakers about the high acidity this year and in some wines (chiefly reds) that may cause a problem but in the Chardonnay it just lifts and drives the wine, rather like Adam Gilchrist lofting the ball straight down the ground over the bowler's head for six. This is going to be a classic Chardonnay year, although the wines may need some time before they show their best. Our 2008 has taken three years to blossom and the 2011 wines will certainly need just as long. We are determined to hold it in our cellars until we see it starting to show its true form.
Pinot Noir--a nice contrast to the juicy, succulent 2010, this is more structured and tight at this stage. It will open up with time in barrel and looks more in line with our 2008 which had a bright, savoury thread through the middle palate. We have it settling down in small French oak casks, one-third of which are new and it will remain there for another 6-7 months.
Merlot--this is a leafy, spicy style with a degree of elegance. It will also need time to show its best.
Cabernet Sauvignon--enigmatic as only this variety can be. One day it looks solid and structured, another day it looks rather restrained and shy. I haven't made up my mind on this one yet. I have a feeling that it will look great in ten years but in the intervening period, who knows? There is some work to be done on making sure this wine goes into the most appropriate barrel. We don't want to add too much oak tannin but neither do we want to add smoky, toasty characters. A barrel that preserves, supports and integrates with the fruit is required.
Budget night tomorrow--not the winery's but the nation's. No rumours about wine and taxation so let's hope that the Government don't have any surprises for us.