For us the 2018-2019 vintage was most heavily influenced by a spluttering start to summer. The success of flowering during early-mid December dictates the size of the bunch and its architecture (fruit-set). Cold temperatures and above average rainfall during flowering meant that fruit-set especially in the Pinot and Chardonnay was poor. Once we re-adjusted our mindset to our small and now very precious crop things started looking up, especially on New Year’s day when the heat finally showed up.
Average is the best descriptor for the remainder of the season. Now average may sound negative but in the context of grape growing in a warming and unpredictable climate, it’s actually a very positive thing. Average meant that we were treated with a long and dry autumn and this in-tern allowed us to run a small and quality focused picking crew for the entire 51-day span of harvest.
Our Hellblock Riesling got things going and the vineyard crew were particularly proud of growing the best-looking Riesling crop that many of them can remember! The majority of our Mendoza clone of Chardonnay was picked before the end of March and although sparse provided the most concentrated and intense juice to treasure in barrel. The Pinot Noir made us hustle when it began to show signs of shrivel due to the high proportion of small berries within the bunches dehydrating. Luckily, we were able to pick all the Pinot over 5 days and retain the beautiful lush berry-fruit characters present.
In the winery, a desire to maintain the integrity of each individual fruit component until later blending down the track (aka geeking out), led to a disproportionately large number of batches and work compared to overall yield. Winery activity peaked around mid-April when the Sauvignon Blanc (very ripe and tropical) was harvested and the Pinot Noirs were well into fermentation.
As often a gap in harvesting occurred once the last of the white varieties were picked and we waited for our full-bodied reds to mature. This year the gap seemed more pronounced and drawn out than usual. If it wasn’t for some tired eyes and prolonged yawns you could almost trick yourself into thinking harvest was starting a-fresh on the 13th of May when the Cabernet Franc was effortlessly picked from the vine. But the habits learnt quickly resumed, and on the 15th the Cabernet Sauvignon so varietally pure and distinctive signalled the end of the harvest.
Our 2019 wines thus far are extremely concentrated and engaging with a real savoury element to many of them — Intriguing and compelling.