17 Apr 2011

Here'a quick snapshot of how the new vintage wines are progressing:
Fume Blanc--has finished fermenting in older oak barrels (although I have introduced one new barrel, specially selected for its low oak impact) and has a small amount of sulphur dioxide added to prevent oxidation. It is now resting on its lees in the barrels where it will remain for at least a few months longer. In style, there is a definite connection with the 2010 but there also some interesting vintage differences. This year there are perhaps more gooseberry and lantana flavours with slightly less passionfruit depth. It's a little lower in alcohol with a touch more acidity. I am very pleased with this wine and I feel it could be the wine of the vintage.
Chardonnay--has just completed its fermentation in a mix of new and old barrels. We will stir the barrels weekly for a month or so and then decide the next steps. We are encouraging malo-lactic fermentation in a few barrels to give a richer, fuller mouthfeel to the final blend. The cool weather this year has kept acidity levels higher than we have seen for some time and I want to make sure the wine is not too "tight". Our two different clones have produced quite different wines--the P58 as usual is the richer and more effusive, while the 95/96 blend shows the typical citrus and grapefruit pith flavours with an elegant reserve that we don't see in the other wine.
Pinot Noir--was fermented on skins in small vats for 8 days then pressed to barrel. The secondary, malo-lactic fermentation is just about complete. We have assessed the vats and made an early decision to include all parcels in the blend. The hard selection work took place in the vineyard where any fruit that we thought not up to standard was left behind.
Merlot--picked last Friday so it's very early to comment. I like the ripe, fleshy flavours so far but we need to make sure the extraction is correct for the wine's ultimate balance. The acid/tannin ratio this year is quite different from previous harvests so a gentle hand is required while the wine remains on skins.
Cabernet Sauvignon--to be picked next week. The fruit looks in great condition and we are hoping the next few days of warmer weather will complete the ripening process. No matter what, this will be a year of lower alcohols in our reds. It's a return to the Yarra wines of last century. Just recently I have had the good fortune to taste a couple of these (Yeringberg 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon and Seville Estate 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon) and the immediate impression was how well these wines had survived and how fresh they looked. They were beautiful examples of the medium-bodied claret style. And that's how I see the 2011 wines.