Posted by Stuart Bourne
Week 10 of the Barossa Valley Estate crush is now over, and with that has come what I consider the first major hurdle of vintage 2009 now being successfully jumped over. That hurdle is the taking in of the last fruit delivery into the crusher on Thursday just gone. Yay! We got there, with no accidents, spills, dramas, mutiny or anything else untoward. Congratulations to all of us on taking in the last grapes and crushing them to ferment. It was a beautiful little load of Cabernet Sauvignon, which ripened late in the cooler and higher altitude area of the Eden Valley.
As a winemaker, I may have a slightly different view of the world than some others when it comes to defining what constitutes vintage. To me, the 2010 vintage is about to start very soon, in about June this year, when pruning commences. But how can that be, I hear again, the screams from cyberspace? This activity is not about picking any fruit, as we will be in winter and have only just finished picking fruit for 2009 vintage wines. This is about making the correct pruning decisions during the winter pruning process, and leaving the right amount of buds on the vine that will burst later this year in spring (about September) and give rise to the shoots, leaves and bunches that will go on to be picked in 2010, thus becoming the 2010 vintage wines. Remember that the 2010 grapes are theoretically already lying inside the buds as tiny undeveloped bunches, that are on the shoot of the vine, some of which will be removed during pruning, and others that will remain behind after pruning. Make the wrong decision during winter pruning in 2009, and it will dramatically affect the following fall harvest in 2010, nine months or more down the track. That’s why I think vintage 2010 actually starts with this winter's pruning.
As to when vintage 2009 actually finishes, I believe it does not finish at all with the last grape delivery. The last fruit signifies the end of harvest, but not vintage. Vintage 2009 will be declared officially over when the last fermentation has completed itself, and all of our wines have been racked and settled, and tucked away as finished wines in barrel, for maturation. It will be about another six to nine weeks yet before all of the yeast and bacterial processes have been completed for our 2009 wines. Then, we will rest and sit back and watch our wines mature in barrel. Simple, isn’t it? The take-home message here is that as wine is simply fermented grape juice, it all keeps coming back to the vineyards. Great fruit can make great wine, but you will never make great wine from poor-quality grapes. No amount of winery tricks and techniques can make a top-end wine from a poor vineyard. Hence, our attention to detail by all our grapegrowers must be aimed at the top end in order to get a top result. Again, this year, I feel we have achieved this and in the next week or two, I will wrap it all up and summarize what I think you can expect from the 2009 Barossa Valley wines.
|BVE brand manager Paul Heinicke takes a break from the office.|
|Ray crunches the numbers as BVE's accounting expert.|
|Rachel's smile is the first thing you'll see when visiting BVE.|
Michael Blakely — Canandaigua, NY — April 13, 2009 10:35pm ET
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