There’s good mould … and there’s bad mould

9.15am, Tuesday 29th March, Yalumba Weighbridge and Grape Lab, Angaston, Eden Valley, The Barossa
I’ve been lurking around the weighbridge most mornings and afternoons for the past week because this is the best spot to catch up with what’s coming and going grape wise to Yalumba – plus what’s going on around the Barossa. The growers and truck drivers have an extremely good ‘bush telegraph’, and there’s always cartons of fresh fruit being dropped off by the various growers with orchards as well as grapes. I had my first pear/apple cross the other day – really nice. Oh yes – there’s also the giant jar of jelly beans as well. The gals running the grape sampling this year – Linda, Ninien & Sue – have been flat out over the last 4 or 5 days, so I even delivered the biggest Kit Kat bar ever seen in a supermarket – because they definitely needed a break!

Any rate, the weather has come good over the last five days – no rain, lots of wind, and total sunshine the last two – and it will even make 27 degrees today! This has helped out in the vineyards enormously, and the whole Valley floor is a hive of activity – grapes being picked left right and centre. We’ve been taking in a lot of small lots of Shiraz between 4 – 10 ton at a time from all corners of the Barossa floor, as well as some more parcels of Riesling from Pewsey Vale, a couple of loads of Sangiovese for Andy La Nauze’s Rosé, and the first of the Chardonnay from Heggies for Peter Gambetta.

The good grapes: clean as a whistle, hand picked Chardonnay

Here’s a picture of one of the top bins on that Heggies load from last night – hand picked and clean as a whistle, going right on 11 Baume for ripeness.

Bad grapes: we had to really search to find these

Next picture – here are a couple of Chardonnay bunches ruined by the nasty mould that everyone is concerned about this year – but we really had to search to find them – thank goodness! As you can see, once you’ve got fruit in this condition, it is totally useless for winemaking. That’s why way back from October, we were right on top of our sulphur spray program, because it pays off big time come vintage. You’ve still got every chance of doing something nice with your fruit.

Bear in mind that there is one good mould that we do like to get – ‘Noble Rot’ or Botrytis cinerea. This is the mould that – late in the season – affects super ripe fruit, and it’s where the mould effectively grows its ‘roots’ or mycelium – into the berry without splitting it. Then, it siphons off the water in the berry, effectively concentrating the sugar and flavour, keeping all intact – and you get this luscious deesert wine as a result. Honey citrus if it’s Riesling, or honey apricot if it’s Viognier.

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