7.27am, Saturday, February 27th, Fresno, CA, USA
We had a huge storm belt through last night, and it’s still bleak outside, but this region needs all the rain it can get, so absolutely no one is complaining. When I said I was coming out to Fresno – given that I’ve never been here before – a lot of folks said “what for?”
This “big small town” has a thriving food and wine fraternity and a neat artsy “Tower District” (named after the full on 1940s neon marquee theatre) – both a pleasant surprise compared to what I was expecting. But more about that tonight when I get home – I’ll catch up on my day in the trade with reigning “Sales Rep of the Year for HWG” Chris Coppola.
For now, it’s the promised ‘Meanwhile Back At The Ranch Vintage Burbles Along’ report.
First, from Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose: We’ve already harvested half the grapes, given that that the fruit has ripened reasonably quickly due to very healthy vines and lower than average crops in most regions – but with the added bonus of natural acids being preserved, and some exciting flavours about. Whilst the Barossa vintage is in full flight, some of the Wrattonbully vineyards down south are starting to come in, and across in Tasmania, the grapes destined for Jansz – whilst still several weeks away from harvest – are already showing fine and gorgeous flavours appearing, just waiting for their bubbles. The WIP (wines in progress) are shaping up to be great quality with personality and true varietal expression.
So it looks like overall – we’re travelling well.
In particular – this is how Teresa Heuzenroeder’s CHARDONNAY world is looking: After looking for a while that the fruit was never going to get flavour ripe – bam, it happened and vintage hit hard and fast. Unlike last year when our chardonnays took quite an extended period to ripen, this year it’s like a rocket. Hard to explain but we think it’s because the vines have responded to really good winter-spring rains after several drought years with more healthy and robust canopies than we’ve seen for a while. Combine that with lower than average yields and some perfect balmy days with mild to cool nights, and you’ve got happy grapes ready for picking. In two weeks time, all of the Eden Valley fruit for the Wild Ferment Chardonnay will be pressed and fermenting in barriques and stainless tanks. Last week the first blocks of Adelaide Hills fruit for FDW 7C came in, and the last vineyard block for that wine will be picked in two or three weeks. The great thing about the these chardonnay parcels is that we have some really good natural acid pH balance, so additions will be minimal. I think that means that we will have more intensely flavoured wines from this vintage, but they will be well balanced with lovely natural acidity. Fingers crossed!
And in the RED CORNER with Kevin Glastonbury: I’m always really relaxed when Kev starts with “I’m very confident that Shiraz is going to be hitting the heights … crops are coming in a bit light in weight … but are balanced with teriffic depth of flavour, colour and mouthfeel. A chunk of Grenache has already been picked this week for Bush Vine, and on Monday we kick off the picking all the Nursery Grenache … and it’s only the end of Feb/start of March! Grenache is also going to be a bit light in weight – think only 1 to 2 bunches per vine off the Tricentenary block! … but they show wonderful varietal flavour. We picked the first Barossa Cabernet three days ago – one of the blocks destined for Signature – and again this is as good as I’ve seen it and it’s been our best cab block for years. As for Shiraz, we picked one of the really old blocks for Octavius last week and it’s top end stuff. We also picked one of the older blocks of Shiraz from the Angaston foothills on Monday, and that’s the best I’ve seen it look coming in … certainly since 2006. So it’s all looking very promising … at this stage.”
So folks, it sounds like at this stage, vintage 2010 is burbling along nicely … at this stage … fingers crossed.
I’m off to hit the road for the three-hour drive through the rain back to San Francisco, so I’ll see you when it’s time to talk Fresno.
**PS The big buzz over here is the rematch between the USA and Canada tomorrow afternoon to fight out the gold medal in the Winter Olympics Ice Hockey. I’m going with the Canadians 4 -3!