Ahhh the wonderfully reliable wine industry….another year of huge rains, mouldy fruit, minimal sunshine and lots and lots and lots of handpicking….La Nina we are cursing you!
Well, despite some challenging ‘weather events’, the cynicism ends here thankfully: 2012 went pretty smoothly here in Whitlands. I wouldn’t quite go as far to call it #vintageofthedecade – as those lucky Yarra Valley vignerons have so called it, but all in all I would call it as a great result from a tricky season.
You are probably aware of the 11 or so inches of rain that swept over Victoria in late February – well this is La Nina in full swing. A similiar thing happened last year and we lost 80% of our vineyard to all kinds of disease. This year the rain was much earlier and didn’t have the same negative effect. Don’t get me wrong, its certainly not ideal but we were well prepared; In wet years an open canopy is crucial to allow air flow and sunlight penetration to the fruit. Andrew – our ever dedicated viticulturalist – had managed to do just that and by mid March we were on track for a great season.
More rain followed however and the cleverest mould of them all – Botrytis Cinera, set in. Botrytis is ugly; it spreads rapidly, cannot be prevented or controlled with any treatments and at instances above about 5% leaves wine flat and brown. The only thing to is cut it out to prevent further infection. Luckily the cool nights in Whitlands (sometimes down to 5 degrees in summer) and good breezes kept it at bay and we managed to keep it under control.
We sell about 90% of the fruit to other companies and this year was no exception. We handpicked over 110 Tons over two weeks (to put that in perspective, one person can pick about 450kg per day), including the rows selected for our own wines. Phew!
So back to us – we picked Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for our 2012 Vintage Sparkling. This is only the second time we’ve made this wine – and its a really exciting project for us. Every parcel is whole bunch pressed into barrels where it ferments with wild yeast. Half of those 22 barrels were allowed through MLF, and they will all sit on lees until spring. We’ll use about three quarters of these in the final wine, and save the rest for future reserves. For all sparkling wine lovers, this is one to anticipate.
Still in tank is my little darling – the 2012 Pinot Meunier Rose. For those who have heard ramble on about how much I love Pinot Meunier, you can breathe relief: it’s finally happening. Pinot Meunier is the dysfunctional yet delicious cousin to the elegant and effortless Pinot Noir. This is a dry, textural, juicy rose which will hit shelves in a few months. I’ll keep you posted with release dates and tasting notes. In addition to this, we finally have something to replace the long-sold-out 2010 Pinot Gris – the 2012 is fresh, light and very, very drinkable. Mmmmm just thinking about it makes me thirsty…
So all in all not a bad season, I know many, many vineyards who had no such luck – so we are all feeling quite lucky.