The Pinot Noir has been picked, along with the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc. They are all happily fermenting in the winery. At this early stage, the Pinot looks like the standout.
Meanwhile, we wait for the Bordeaux varieties to ripen fully. This year, the Merlot could be the star. It often shows a mean edge, as if it is rebuking us for planting it in the Yarra Valley--but this year, there is a long tannin profile, loads of flavour and a genuine richness.
Recent rain has helped these later varieties withstand the rather difficult and dry conditions. The vines look refreshed and I predict that within two weeks we will have completed harvest.
By the way, that's a bunch of Cabernet Sauvignon in the photo. Doesn't it look great?
With six different varieties in our small vineyard, we pay close attention to ripening patterns so that we can harvest the grapes at exactly the right time. Luckily, we are assisted by the natural growth patterns of the varieties. I took these photos today to illustrate how great the difference can be. The first is Pinot Noir--also the first red variety to ripen. The berries are beginning to fill out and form tight bunches, as you can see. We expect harvest to be in late February or perhaps early March if the weather is cool.
It makes sense that this variety has found its true home in Burgundy. In such a northely region, any red grapes that did not ripen early would be unlikely to ripen at all.
By contrast, Cabernet Franc is a much later ripener. Just look at the bunches below and compare the development to the Pinot Noir above. This Cabernet Franc will be picked at least three weeks later--maybe even in April.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the last variety to be picked. That will certainly be in April unless the weather is very hot and dry over summer.
Sometimes good things happen that have nothing to do with wine--hard to believe, but it's true--and here is one of them. Can you see what I am talking about?
Taken in my back garden on the weekend--I was having a coffee when I noticed something in the magnolia tree. Closer inspection revealed a large tawny frogmouth. We haven't seen these birds for quite a few years and perhaps the drought had some impact on their numbers. It's great to see them returning.
Just in case you couldn't make it out well enough...
And here is the scary one, taken without the red-eye filter....
The soil has finally warmed, there is plenty of moisture available and the vines are really moving. Here's a shot taken this week--compare to the earlier blog entry to see how much growth has occurred in just a few weeks.
Flowering is a rather unobtrusive affair in grape vines. There are no showy blooms, no flashes of colour. If you wander through a vineyard at flowering time, you will notice a faint but pleasant aroma but unless you look closely you may miss the flowers altogether.
The small white flowers quickly develop into berries as the photo below shows. The brown cap
soon falls away and the berries begin to grow.
It was a mild, calm spring day for the latest sausage sizzle at Squitchy Lane last weekend.
The favourite on the day was the blackeye beef, a genuine artisan creation--coarse ground beef with subtle hints of bacon, prunes and herbs. Of course, the duck sausage with a glass or two of Pinot Noir wasn't bad either.
Very enjoyable day--here is a photo gallery taken early by Michelle, one of our cellar door team.
We hope to have another in March next year. See you there.
We have been deep in discussions with our favourite butchers to get the best selection possible for our gourmet sausage sizzle on Saturday November 10.
You can find full details on our website, www.squitchylane.com.au but in the meantime, here's the menu with my recommended wine matchings:
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN with 2010 CHARDONNAY
DUCK and HOISIN SAUCE with 2010 PINOT NOIR
PORK, APPLE and SAGE with 2011 FUME BLANC
BLACKEYED BEEF (beef with bacon, prune and rosemary) with 2009 RED SQUARE
BEEF and THYME with 2010 CABERNET SAUVIGNON
We will be cooking from noon till 4 pm or until the sausages run out (those who came to our last event will know that the duck sauasages were gone pretty early in the day. I think the blackeyed beef could do the same this time--it's a great match with the Red Square which is starting to really open up after a few years in the bottle).
Another season starts........
Here is a Pinot Noir vine, growing quickly and without restraint. We need to control that growth, especially those suckers that are sprouting from the trunk. Left alone, they will flourish and rob the vine of vigour as well as creating a disease hazard. So we take them off, along with some of the abundant growth in the middle of the vine, where the two arms branch out (this is known as the crown). If it is is left to grow freely, we will have a large, impenetrable mass of leaves and fruit that can trap moisture and really cause us problems. Here's what I did...
More will be needed but I hope that gives you the idea. The weather is still cool, especially in the morning, but the vines are looking in great condition. Fruitfulness is high--there are plenty of potential bunches forming--so we will be vigilant in controlling bunch numbers. The last few seasons have given us a pretty good idea of just how many bunches per vine we need to give us the quality we seek. It's not many.
Here's a panorama looking towards the south-east....
What a great day for the end of the Yarra Valley Gumboot festival. Enough sun to warm the frozen bones of winter and enough good people to enjoy the Squitchy Lane hospitality:
We cooked up some beef and Cabernet sausages, drank some wines and just enjoyed the day. As did the happy group pictured above and here:
The designated driver (solitary male) looks rather glum because he was, well, it's pretty obvious really. His glamorous companions did their best to cheer him up.
People just kept coming. Here's a group who called themselves a netball team but we think they were more likely to be simply escaping the husbands and boyfriends for some serious girl time:
Wines looking good today were the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon--both with a good future in front of them.