12.25pm, Tuesday 5th February, Pipeline Road, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Afternoon folks, we have a very special group of people visiting the winery this week – our colleagues who manage the sales of Yalumba wines in various parts of the USA and Canada, and the man who looks after Yalumba with our distributor specifically for New York State. I’ll make sure you meet them all later……I’m just waiting to take them to lunch at the Blanchetown Pub, on the way to our afternoon adventure with the boys at Oxford Landing Vineyard – near Waikerie on the Murray River. So it’s a good time to catch up with where we’re at with Viognier this vintage.
I introduced you to the folks at the Grape Lab a couple of weeks ago, and I dropped in this morning to see how things are developing. It’s still too early to pick Viognier – even from the Valley Floor, which being a touch warmer, ripens first. Today’s Viognier fruit sample from the Stockwell Road area – on the Eastern side of the Valley Floor, just below the Angaston foothills – is coming along nicely, but not ready yet. Fruit ripeness is indicated by the sugar level (that increases over time), acid level (that decreases over time) and pH (the relative amount of acid to alkali – the ‘balance’ if you will). With the sugar level, it’s measured in degrees Baume – and as a rough rule of winemaking thumb – one degree Baume of sugar accumulates over one week ripening on the vine, and gives you more or less 1 % alcohol in the finished wine. So we want Viognier ripe, because that’s when you get the characteristic apricot, peach, floral blossom and even ginger in the aromatics and flavors – and the telltale viscosity and texture on the palate. Generally Viognier for us ripens at around 14 degrees Baume of sugar, or 14 weeks ripening, and the wine ends up at 13-14 %v/v alcohol.
The Viognier sample in question today tested at 10 degrees Baume sugar, 7.7g/l acid and pH 3.14. So it’s in reasonably good shape, but not ripe enough yet, probably a couple of weeks away yet.
In comparison, here’s some of James Hage’s Valley Floor Chardonnay arriving at the Grape Lab and weigh bridge this morning. That’s Ninien up there taking the load sample before it heads up to the crushers. That fruit is a bit riper, and pretty much where we want Chardonnay to be – 12.5 degrees Beaume of sugar.
More on Viognier to follow later, as I show you what our ‘Viognier Breakfast’ tasting is all about.