5.04pm, Wednesday 13th February, The Clocktower, Yalumba, The Barossa, SA
Afternoon, folks, it’s another hot one out there today, grapes are ripening, there’s a stack of Cabernet and Shiraz grape samples in at the grape lab weighbridge, and growers are getting every truck in the Barossa out of the sheds to cart the fruit being picked, so all’s right with the world right here right now as vintage is really starting to motor along.
I spent the morning out and about with Kevin ‘Mr Signature’ Glastonbury , who makes all of our serious dry reds – that would be Octavius Old Vine Shiraz, Signature Cabernet Shiraz, and The Reserve Cab Shiraz – just for starters. The vineyards that we had a look at are all pretty much earmarked for one of those wines, and hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea of what things look like at the minute:
This is 50-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon on the Barossa Floor between Bethany and Krondorf Road. There’s a nice red dirt strip through there with some lovely Cab, and these vines have really been looked after this vintage – there’s not a huge crop on, but the bunches that are there are in great shape, and there’s a nice amount of canopy there to keep pumping the goodies into the berries. It’s about 11.5 degrees Baume at the moment, so another two weeks and it will be hand picked and coming up to the winery.
***Bearing in mind the low yields around this year, I heard some growers today talking about the standard ’20 bunch samples’ that wineries ask to be taken from each vineyard once a week to track ripening, and one wag said, “Another 20 bunch sample and that will be 10% of my crop gone!”
OK … back to that first lot of Cabernet.
Over to the western side of the Barossa Floor just north of Tanunda and down toward the bed of the Para River, this old vine Shiraz was planted back in 1914 – and it went quite against the grain this season, setting a reasonably sturdy crop early. So the fruit was thinned – that’s the dried out bunches by the base of one vine to give you an idea how much was taken off each – and the canopies aren’t huge but they’re solid enough to keep everything ripening really nicely. This year it’s almost odds on that this Shiraz will make the top drop! Have a look at these nice long bunches. You can’t beat vines that have been treated with a huge amount of TLC! (That’s tender loving, folks.)
The fruit is at 12 Baume now, so two weeks and the pickers will be here as well.
And the thinned bunches …
Then we came back across the Valley floor to Light Pass, to one of our own vineyards – Shiraz that with any luck will make Signature this year. Now the bunches aren’t wearing Christmas silver frost; this is a clay mixture that a lot of folks have sprayed on their exposed fruit this year – more or less as a ‘sunscreen’ to prevent the grapes from being sunburned from the extended heat wave conditions that we’ve had this season.
Again, not a huge amount of fruit, but what is there is positioned nicely, tastes great, and is sitting at about 13 Baume, so next Monday that will be heading for the crusher.
Throw in a quick stop at Apex Bakery in Tanunda as soon as their doors opened this morning to grab one of their pasties straight out of the 80-year-old wood fired oven, and you’ve got our morning pretty much accounted for. We dropped in to see Charlie Melton over on Krondorf Road as we take a vineyard right next door … and they’re away and crushing as well and really happy with the fruit even though they’re seeing 1 ton to the acre in some vineyards that usually have 2 to 2.5. But if the weather holds, we just might have an interesting vintage shaping up. Fingers crossed.
See you tomorrow when I finish off my itinerary for the first big Yalumba events trip away for the year – 6 weeks in Ireland and the United Kingdom starting Saturday!