People often ask us about the origin of the winery name, Squitchy Lane. Well, here's a tongue-in-cheek answer, taken at yesterday's wine and food festival at Southbank. You don't find lanes much more squitchy than this (it's taken from behind our stand):
It certainly was an interesting day. Sincere thanks to all the lovely people who turned out in the rain to taste the wines of Victoria, the great majority of which were from small producers who don't often get a chance to show their wines in Melbourne.
Here's a shot of Robyn pouring a glass of 2010 Pinot Noir:
I was continually amazed at the enthusiasm and knowledge of the visitors. They loved wine, so much so that they were willing to wear one of those silly ponchos, ruin their good shoes and generally squelch around in mud in order to taste some of Victoria's best wines.
Woodstock or Glastonbury, depending on your generation.......
And it's on again today but at least the rain appears to have stopped.
Once again, thanks to all our visitors. I hope you had as much fun as we did. We look forward to meeting you again at the cellar door, especially at our sausage day on April 28.
Of course, there is a real reason for the name Squitchy Lane but you will need to look on our website to find it.
Here is a bin of our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc awaiting transfer to the winery for crushing, pressing and fermenting in barrels whence it will become our 2012 Fume Blanc. In barrel, the ferments have a similar character to the 2011 wine, probably tighter and more lifted in fruit profile than the 2010. By the way, I think the 2010 Fume Blanc could lay claim to being the most successful Squitchy Lane release ever. Now, success can be measured in many ways and I will admit to a rather non-scientific approach but I base my findings on the following:
--it's just about sold out
--more restaurants list this wine than any other Squitchy Lane release
--just about every cellar door visitor who tries it is immediately won over. I think it has the best strike rate of any wine on tasting
--it's a new label, with a new name, and therefore has no precedent
And what's more, the 2011 is every bit as good. In fact, I think it's a little better.
The 2012 harvest was going beautifully until the rain. We have picked the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and now have to wait a few weeks for the Cabernets and Merlot. We were lucky in that we picked most of the fruit before the rain. We finished yesterday with a small parcel of our Burgundy clone Chardonnay.
So far, everything looks good. I'll give a special mention to the Pinot Noir--and even though it is very early in its life, this vintage looks exceptionally promising. To be continued......
SQUITCHY SATURDAYS- VINTAGE SPECIALVINTAGE is here and Squitchy Lane is a hive of activity as the many varieties of grapes are harvested from our Gruyere property.
Come and join the team at Squitchy Lane, as Steve Sadlier, viticulturist, explains in detail the wine harvesting process- from planting to picking and crushing.
Challenge your taste buds on fresh grapes snipped from the vine of Merlot, Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. A blind tasting is sure to test your palate.
We hope to also offer a small selection of grape juices, fresh from the press, for you to try.
An intimate experience at a boutique vineyard where you can speak directly to the producer.
If you've always been intrigued by the how and why of a Yarra Valley harvest, drop in to the cellar door between 11am- 4pm and get involved with vintage 2012!
Of course the finished product will also be available for sale and tastings on the day. Sit back under our umbrellas and enjoy a glass of wine in the peaceful setting of our Yarra Valley property.WHAT: Tasting of grapes, freshly pressed juice and current vintage wines at Squitchy Lane vineyard in the Yarra Valley.WHERE: Squitchy Lane Vineyard, 9 Medhurst Road, GruyereWHEN: Saturday March 3, 2012TIME: 11am to 4pmWHAT’S INCLUDED: Informative session with viticulturalist Steve Sadlier as he describes the harvest process from planting to picking and crushing. Tastings of different grape varieties, freshly pressed grape juice and current vintage wines.COST: No charge.
2012 harvest starts tomorrow. We will be picking our P58 clone of Chardonnay (P stands for Penfolds since this is where this clone first came to light in Australia). It looks good, still retains good natural acidity and has all the tropical, limey fruit characters we are looking for.
Bunches are small, as are individual berries. The clusters are not as tightly packed as usual which is great for air flow through the bunch to reduce moisture and humidity build-up. This greatly reduces any potential for damaging disease outbreaks.
We bottled the 2011 last week. It will get a year in our temperature-controlled storage before it is released. It's slightly different in style from our previous wines, with the inclusion of a small amount of malo-lactic fermentation to add depth.
Here's to 2012!
The Pinot Noir bunches are ripening quickly--look back in the blog at earlier posts to see just how rapid the colour change and berry fulness has occurred--and I expect that we will harvest them within ten days.
It's been a marvellous ripening period for the early varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Acids remain high, thanks to the cool nights, and the rather mild conditions during the day have helped retain fruit flavour. Contrary to what might be called received wisdom, I like to see the grapes ripen quickly. The common view that long growing seasons give the best flavours is widespread--you'll see this opinion on back labels, on websites, in the media, in wine books and you will hear it in conversations with experts and opinion leaders. Well, I don't buy it. Given the choice, I'll take rapid veraison and ripening.
Often, grapes that take a long time to ripen lose natural acidity which must then be added at the winery. What's more, this long ripening can mean that the vines are over-cropped and struggling to ripen the crop load.
That's why I like the fast and even ripening we get at Squitchy Lane. It tells me the crop is in balance and that we will not be forced to add acid at the crusher. It also tells me that we have the right site for the grapes. There's a hard-to-define freshness that comes with all this--you can taste it in the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet especially although the Chardonnay also has it.
More on Chardonnay in the next post.
A massive hail storm tore through the Melbourne region in late December. Such events can be catastrophic in vineyards as the hail shreds the leaves and lacerates the berries.
The Squitchy Lane vineyard was luckily not in the epicentre of this storm but there was certainly enough hail to cover the ground and cause some damage to the vines. You can see above what happens to a grape berry when it is hit by a hail stone. These berries will shrivel and drop off the bunch as long as the weather is dry following the damage. There was only a small amount of leaf and berry damage and we assume this was because the hail came straight down and was not driven by strong winds.
We have probably lost 5% of our crop. Other than that, the vines survived very well.
Véraison is the term we use to describe the onset of ripening. The official definition of veraison is "change of color of the grape berries" and you can just make out (if you look very closely at the bunch in the photo above) the first change of colour in a berry as it loses its green appearance and starts to turn red. Veraison marks the transition from berry growth to berry ripening--these Pinot Noir berries won't grow much larger now but they will change colour and begin to lose their acidity while increasing their sugar content.It will take a few weeks for the whole bunch to change colour. When that has happened, we reckon that harvest will occur in another forty days or thereabouts. So we should be picking this Pinot Noir in early March.The vines are growing well although the canopies are not large and we have plucked some leaves from the Pinot Noir vines to allow better air flow to reduce disease pressure. This has increased the bunch exposure--good if the weather remains "normal", not so good if we get a heatwave or even a hailstorm...more on that in the next post....