Lots of people have contacted us asking for more information about vintage 2009. And who better to tell us than the experts: our wineries?
So how has vintage been this year? Are you still harvesting? Were there any surprises? Do you have any stories? Any pre-release teasers...? Tell us what vintage is really like.
Or better still, show us -- we know you take photographs and this is the perfect opportunity to show them off. A quick scan of the ALBUMS section shows that some of you already have:
+ Yarrawood Estate : [ http://tinyurl.com/obr63y ]
BoozeMonkey members are all wine-lovers: we get the chance to drink some magical wines, but we rarely get to see any of the hard work that goes into making them. And we love all that.
Please post your stories, your photographs and your comments below.
Things have been a bit quiet so far this vintage in the Coonawarra. Picked the last of our whites last night! Our reds are a little way off at this stage. Vintage is proberly running on scedule time wise but after last year where we picked Riesling and Shiraz in the same day it seems a little slow. Our Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay all look good in the tank and we cant wait to have a play with them. I will try to post some pictures when the reds start peeling off.
Bye for now!
I would have to say that the vintage this year was a little unfortunate. I am sure that stories will start flooding in as people start wrapping things up.
The heat wave here in Vic has caused some major issues in a lot of our premium wine areas with sunburn on the fruit and a loss of foliage which has led to some people having issues with ripeness.
I guess the most heartbreaking thing is that not only are yields down, significantly, for a lot of growers but there is also the looming threat of smoke taint in some areas. More than a handful of growers/producers have opted not to pick their fruit at all and much still hangs on the vine going to waste because the vignerons are of the opinion that the investment of time and money that goes into picking and processing would be an overt waste due to the smoke that has hung like a pall over their vineyards after the fires of Black Saturday.
I guess the frustrating part for many was that the quality of the fruit that was left unscathed was excellent. The Shiraz I picked in the Yarra this year had amazing intensity and depth as did other varieties. The issue that the winemaker where I worked for vintage now faces is whether or not smoke taint will rear its ugly head after the ferment has finished.
Thats the problem, smoke taint is not seen, from my understanding, in the fruit or juice and requires the action of yeast during ferment to alter the chemical so that it is detectible. The prominant indicator for smoke taint (currently) is 4-methylguaiacol, a compound that requires products of fermentation. This is compounded by the fact that its precurser, guaiacol, is extracted from the skins/leaves/stems more rapidly as the alcohol levels increase and ethanol works as a solvent. This means reds that spend extended time macerating on skins are more prone to spoilage.
Any way, thats enough doom and gloom. Like I said before, the quality of the fruit that survived seems to be excellent over all and areas like tha Yarra Valley are, depending on who you talk to, likely to be relatively free from the smoke because of the strong winds that blew most of it away before it had a chance to really settle.
If any one is crazy enough to want to read a report on smoke taint then this is an article I have read a couple of times. Though its extremely boring, dry and long so I don't recommend it for any one who doesn't suffer from insomnia :-)
Vintage in Southern Flinders & Clare Valley is still going. Shiraz is very strong this year, beautiful colour! Riesling got a bit of sunburn from the heatwave but is generally very good. Chardonnay is very flavoursome. Havent harvested any Cabernet or Grenache yet. We were very lucky to receive 100mm rain in December to give us good canopies to protect the fruit from that heatwave in late January. Then we had another 23mm rain in early March which slowed ripening a bit but helped flavour development.
So generally it all looks great! Still a few weeks to go so getting tired with all the long hours!
The Orange harvest is now underway with most whites being harvested now... The season has been a long one with rippening looking to be out to about 40-50days after veraison.
At Stockman's Ridge Wines Orange vineyard harvesting of the Pinot Gris was completed about 2 weeks ago and fermentation is underway. Our Sav Blanc came off Monday morning with harvesting started at about 2pm with great flavours and a nice level of acidity and looks to be an exciting year for the whites.
Our Red are still a few weeks await with Baume at about 11 for the Shiraz. We still have Cab Sav, Merlot, Cab Franc, Shiraz and Zin left... The zin is fu with Baume needing to get to 16-17 before we harvest!
Stockman's Ridge Wines
2009 was another great vintage for us. After the amazingly cool summer of '08 we took the bold/foolish step of going dryland. We've also been experimenting with using organic practices in the vineyard, and the result was a even bigger crop than last year's bumper one with far fewer inputs.
We narrowly avoided a massive hailstorm that slammed into Coonabarabran in November (causing the evacuation of the hospital). Fortunately, we only received the small donation of a pile of hailstones around the post box. Spring was very mild, with rain showers every other week. But the general lack of humidity in our area means that mildews are fairly easy to control. The ladybirds were in full party mode again, and we seem to be able to maintain a good balance of predators to the extent that the threat from bugs to date is zero.
Conditions at flowering and fruit set were even better than last year's due to the extra moisture. And because we don't get frost due to constant air movement on our hill, the stage was set for a decent sized crop. We did however prune heavily in winter and shoot thin early in the season to make sure we curtailed any excessive yield.
The rest of the season was in hindsight quite dull. While the growing season is typically viewed with subdued panic, vine growth and fruit development was very even. By vintage the vines were very well balanced, and while we did have unwanted rain in mid February, the vines didn't suck up too much water. By the beginning of harvest there were some great flavours coming through in the grapes– particularly the merlot. We harvested the shiraz in a wonderfully chilly 7 degrees, and the chambourcin and petit verdot had fantastic acidity by the time their turn came around.
Due to the distinctly uncertain outlook for the economy, we've decided to be very conservative with our harvests this year, and only harvest four tonnes of each varietal. Like many small wineries, I suppose, we need to make sure we can keep our heads above water until, hopefully, the green shoots of a recovery emerge in a not too distant future. So for this year, the birds are very happy.
Heres a bit from the Bellarine Peninsula. Vintage picking dates seem to be back to what we would see as the norm (if there is such a thing). The last couple of vintages have seen pretty much all varities ripe at the same time putting huge pressure on the winery. Tonnages are down again this year, it has been the driest vintage on records for us (thats 13 of them). We will pick about 40% of what we think is normal, we have had plenty of water to irrigate with but the lack of rainfall has just left the ground to dry to get the vines really going. We have picked some lovely Chardonnay but not a lot, the Pinot Noir looks good in the fermenters and it should produce a great wine. We are exicted about picking our Shiraz which hopefully will come of this week and it looks like being the real winner from this long dry spell.
Well, almost over. I spent yesterday perched on the back of a wine trailer trying to guide the chute, through which all the grapes flow, into the bin. For those not familiar with mechanical grape harvesting the grapes are harvested by this machine that sits over the top of the row. Giant beaters knock the berries off the bunch into a shute which passes over the top of the row , depositing its load of grapes into 2 wine bins which are on the back of a grape trailer, 2 rows away from the harvester. The trick is to get the tractor driver and the harvester driver in synch. This is where my problems start as I had 2 geriatric tractor drivers who would start off OK but then start dreaming about another life. I'd be hanging out the back trying to direct the shute into the bins. However often the grapes went all over me, off the back or front of the bins. No amount of yelling to the bald head driving the tractor would work as the noise of all the machines drowned me out . Anyway, it's over now and enough of our Shiraz got into the bins I think.
The Chardonnay was hit by frost so reduced to about a quarter of what it should be. Very good quality though. The Cab is all sold to another winery and the Zin is still to come off. Climate has been fairly mild and we are later than last year. Haven't had scorching heat at the end which has been a great bonus. I'd say it will be a "good year".
Welll here it start's I suppose. Spring started out quite nicely, warmish day's and mildish weather, so thing's were looking good generally. Then we came too the flowering part of the season and thing's went a bit pear shaped.We had a late start to the season with bud burst about a month later than the norm. When it came too flowering we copped wild wind's and very cold frosty type morning's. As a result bunch set was all over the show, lovely fruit and good bunch sizes in some protected area's and hen's & chicken's in other's. Having said that we will see some superb wines from the Tamar Valley this vintage. Due to the season being later it may well be a very tough year for Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz in term's of ripeness. Now we will just have to be patient and hope the weather hold's up for us all. Cheer's for now...Rob
Great idea for a forum. It has been interesting to read how advanced some of the Australian wine regions are. For us here in cool climate Martinborough, NZ, we are just about to start in earnest. Picked a little Pinot Noir yesterday and it came in looking superb - good bright acidity partnered with balanced sugar levels and lovely flavours. Tomorrow looks to be a little showery, so Thursday we'll get into it. Everything is picked by hand, and as always we are competing with our local wineries for experienced pickers. I'll keep the forum posted on how things develop; at present we forsee a crop a little below last year, but excellent quality. Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Syrah are our main varietals.
About halfway through vintage so far. Pinot Gris came in first which is really unusual. Brix are also high so for those who preferred our 2007 Pinot Gris it should be similar with more honeyed flavours, but early days yet.
Pinot Noir was nice and clean with good full fruit. Unfortunately Merlot was a much lower yield than previous years so this will be a very exclusive, limited edition wine!
Still harvesting Chardonnay and Sauvignon, about 300 tonnes to go.
The fruit is coming in very clean with good high brix. Some people were having problems with botrytis in Feb/Mar but we made the decision to drop a lot of fruit at that time and go through by hand cutting it out. We are now experiencing the benefits of this as the fruit has ripened so much better with a lovely sweetness and a clean taste.
Will keep you posted.
I have to say firstly, how impressed I am with this website. Matt has done a great job and is so helpful to people like me - those not up-to-scratch with computer technology. And now I have found you lot and I no longer feel I am by myself on an island. Thanks Matt.
As you have read, vintage has been a mixed bag. Here in Central Victoria it has been terrible on the whole but at least we didn't get burnt out. We are thinking of all of you who had fires to battle and a smoke invasion. Out here, we have finally brought in our small crop after high temps' frost to start the season, no water after mid-December with little before then and this having been repeated for the last 3 years.
But the little fruit we received is a blessing- only 1.3 tonnes of shiraz. We have already tasted the juice and it is great and we are now looking forward to bottling. We expect it to be as good as, if not better, than the '08 which we have just bottled. We already have people wanting to purchase this but it needs just a little time to settle. It really is lovely so I hope and pray that you others have received your own blessings with your '08 too.
The vintage '09 has basically followed the progress of '08 except for the 45degree temps and the absence of water in three dams. Our Tippperary Hill Estate block didn't yield as the frost, temps, no water, birds, wallabies and fox(es?) wiped it out and we are facing vines actually dying. Thank God for the Tulkara block!
Yet you have to respect the vines- they are still trying to sprout and struggle to live. It has made us look at the prospect of grubbing out or quitting the game because we are so disheartened. But then comes a time when you open a rich young red you have made and see the struggling new growth emerging from the base of the vines and you are made to wonder!
Oh well, the fences have been repaired, the winery cleaned away, the barrel filling completed for the '09 vintage, the barrells of non-bottled wine attended to and we look ahead and wonder what we will do.
The greatest joy for wine producers, I think, is that when you have a group of friends and customers around, have the barbie going and you open some bottles before delighted wine lovers, what more can you ask for. Pass along that bottle of '06 again, mate, and have one yourself.
Well its nearly over. We have been harvesting the Sauvignon for the past 2 days. A cold snap overnight of a scary -2 degrees has meant that all the fruit needs to come off.
At this stage we do not think we will be harvesting the riesling. Each year we make the decision based on the fruit. Although it looks good the brix are low. Should we harvest it would mean producing a low alcohol riesling, posssible but not the easiest wine to sell. We will leave it up to a higher power - the winemaker!!.
Vintage is almost over for us at Misha's Vineyard in Central Otago, New Zealand. We've hand-picked almost 100 tonnes this year - 2/3rds of it was Pinot Noir and the other 1/3rd, a combination of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc. We have just a couple of tonnes of Riesling hanging out for another few days, and then that's it.
This year we starting picking Pinot Noir on the 7th April and our last Pinot to be picked was the 23rd April. Last year we started harvest on the 28th March, so the season is definitely later this year. And all I can say is thank goodness we have a frost-free site. Central Otago has experienced a strange season - we never really got a summer. And February was cooler and wetter than usual. Things caught up a bit during March but then April has seen most vineyards frost fighting 2,3, and even 4 nights in a row. Having a site that's warm and as frost-free as possible, really helps in difficult seasons like this one.
So what's the quality like? Well we're delighted with the flavours we have and our harvest is slightly up on our expectations. We took off about 40% of the crop during thinning this year to ensure the quality, and you're never really sure just what the end result is going to be in terms of final tonnage, but it was better than we expected - so good news all around.
Bushfires in the Yarra Valley
The Yarra Valley, along with vast areas of Victoria, has just emerged from one of the most devastating fires in Australia's history.
Yarrawood Estate has escaped with minimal physical damage, despite being ringed by raging fire to the North and South on Black Saturday, the 7th of February 2009.
We put our narrow escape down to a combination of selfless efforts by staff, neighbours & the CFA to suppress both spot fires and the fire front, and the unbelievable timing of the wind changes, resulting in only fencing, headlands, a few panels of vines and one of our prize old gum trees being lost. We think ourselves luck, given the price others have paid -- we are forever grateful!
However, physical damage is one thing... what now faces Yarrawood is the prospect of another year with a vastly reduced harvest. In 2007, when one of the most severe frosts on record devastated the Valley, Yarrawood's vintage was shrunk to 15% of normal levels. In 2009, we estimate Yarrawood's production to be less than 30% of normal due to the unseen effects of the fires -- smoke taint. The smoke absorbed by the vines during and after the fire passed will render much of Yarrawood's fruit unsuitable for production.
But we will continue and are now preparing and looking towards a more prosperous vintage in 2010! Visitation levels to the Yarra Valley and other fire-affected areas are slowly returning to pre-fire numbers, which is very important for the ongoing survival of their businesses. We thank all of our loyal customers for their phone calls of concern and wishes, and their return visits to our Cellar Door.
The other positive news is that Yarrawood has excellent stocks of pre-2009 vintage wines in stock! Below is a selection of our Yarrawood Tall Tales range -- offered at our low Cellar Door direct prices, they represent truly excellent value.
Orders can be made via our secure website at www.yarrawood.com.au or by phoning our Cellar Door on 03 9730 2003 if you would like to order mixed cases. Free freight is offered for customers in VIC, NSW, SA and Southern QLD as part of our ongoing commitment to our Cellar Door Club members. Membership is complimentary / no obligation.
Well after a horror year in our OZ vineyards I got a guest spot at an incredible winery in Central Otago, They are saying its a cracker of a vintage with good fruit all round.
Our winery is completely cosmopolitain with Czech Republic, Chilean, Italian, French, German, Japanese, American, Kenyan, Kiwi and one OZ. The weather has packed in with all the fruit in and the snow is coming down the mountain. Its about 3 degrees and snow showers. Those summer days feel long gone.
** via Daily Wine News **
More than AUS$8m of fruit was lost during the 2009 heatwave and bushfires in the Yarra Valley.
Tony Jordan, president of the Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association, estimates the region lost around 4000 tonnes of fruit, valued at $2000 per tonne.
The total value of lost wine sales is difficult to estimate, according to the Association.
Jordan played down the short harvest. 'A fall of 25% is a blow but is within the range of year-to-year variation that we might expect to see,' he said.
Producers in the region say January's four-day heatwave was to blame for most of the crop loss, with February's fires damaging just 4% of the Valley's 3800ha of vineyard.
'The greatest losses were down to the heat spike. Only 30 vineyards suffered fire damage. Vineyards did get burned – mainly singed by grass fires – but 85% of the all the vines hit will recover within 2 years,' Jordan added.
Three small wineries were destroyed by fire.
GALAFREY WINES (Vintage Report 2009)
As much needed rain begins to replenish some very thirsty vines, it is a good time to take stock of our vintage thus far, and assess what we have in tank, in barrel and hopefully, soon in bottle!
The 2009 vintage began, as usual, with the intake of white fruit. Semillon. However this year we were a week later than in 2008.
What’s more interesting, in 2008 we harvested Sauvignon Blanc on the 4th March, and this year our Sauvignon Blanc was harvested on the 24th March! No need to point out the impact of climatic variations and terroir there.
The whites were finished before the reds, thankfully, as this gave us some room to breathe in the cellar, and a chance to concentrate on finessing, what appears to be a fantastic year for whites.
The longer, and somewhat cooler ripening period, allowed for a slower maturation of fruit on the vine. This in turn correlated the development of intensely varietal flavours and very desirable sugars.
They say the definition of a premium fruit is, clean, disease free and reaching optimal ripeness. Well we hit 3/3 there and then some.
The Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are both intensely aromatic and have a wealth of palate weight, depth and complexity. Not usually a commonality in these varieties, but in dry grown conditions, things just seem to behave better!
The Riesling is yet again a stellar performer, and is a reflection of this unique region. Exhibiting chalk, mineral, lime and passion fruit, this much maligned variety is a stand out, serious wine.
The Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Semillon are everything you want in a Reserve. Big, Rich, Bold, and Oaked! Keep and eye out for these gladiators.
The reds began and finished on the 20th April. In 2008 the first reds were taken on the 28th March. Again quite a difference in ripening, and im sure the polar bears would have something to say about that!
A reduction in yields this year signified an improved development of flavours on the vine and in the tank.
All the reds showed surprising colour density upon crushing, and this was translated in the fermenters with an immediate intensity in colour and fullness in flavour.
The Shiraz was magnificent from the get-go, with a persistent redolence of white pepper in the air, which has transmigrated to the wine and is showing all the promise in emerging as a BIG red!
The Merlot was the sublime performer. As is it is so often overshadowed by the cabernets and Shiraz’s, it has been a treat to see it develop into an elegant capacious style. Still waiting some oak time, this wine will beckon the tender mercies of time.
Finally the Cabernet Sauvignon. Another Galafrey stalwart and another impressive year. Pushing the fruit a little longer on the vine, has rewarded us with a robust and pugnacious red that will relish the time it only deserves in new French oak.
So now, unlike another known distillery, it’s not time for chess and checkers! But a march to get the early releases out there, and lay down the reds for further maturation.
If vintage so far is anything to go by, then I can positively say we are all in for some pleasant afternoons relaxing with a glass of 09.
Winemaker, Galafrey Wines