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Vintage Report Edition 3 - from Bruce Tyrrell

Fri, February 1st 2013   /   No comments

The stars of the last week have been our two picking teams.  Firstly, the normal team who have got over the same amount of vineyard in four days that we expected them to take five.  Two reasons for this – the very good picking team of mostly backpackers from China to Latvia, and the other team, who successfully picked DeBeyer’s .515 tonnes of Chardonnay, was Jason’s All Stars, made up of the warehouse and bottling crew.
Friday and Saturday night saw the end of all of this year’s Verdelho from a whole range of growers.  The tank of John Tulloch’s, that we keep separately, really looks the goods and we may yet have a chance at the local Verdelho trophy.  Penfold Vale was finished picking on Friday night with the total pick of 73 tonnes.  On Saturday morning we went to Belford to pick the Chardonnay and came back in time to pick the first of the Pinot Noir – about 4 tonnes of our own  3 tonnes from a local grower.  Ours was a little lower and more perfumed but the grower’s fruit on Hermitage Road has fantastic big colour.  Monday was another early start for the hand pickers.  Our policy is to start picking at sun-up so we can get as much done before it gets hot.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday morning, we picked all of the Chardonnay on the Short Flat and the NVC behind the winery.  All of this fruit was basket pressed and all looks destined for Vat 47.  Yields ranged between 2 and 3 tonnes per acre and sugar levels will see the wine between 2.5 and 13 + % alcohol.  Monday night, we finished Neil Stevens’ semillon.  In total we picked 30 tonnes of Stevens’ semillon against 60 tonnes last year.  Tuesday, we took a small team away from the main group of pickers to pick the 2 tonnes of Pinot Noir from HVD to go on the bottom of the fermenters with another 4 tonnes that was machined harvested.  This tested about 13.25% alcohol equivalent and has loads of colour, loads of flavour.  The remainder of our Pinot Noir we are picking for red tomorrow morning.  After finishing the Chardonnay on Wednesday lunch time, we have picked all of the Pokolbin Hills Semillon and all of the Belford Semillon.  Crops of both of these are down about half to what we expected and this seems to be the general number across the district.  The lack of rain from August through to Christmas is now really showing its effects.
We still have all of Vat 1, Johnno’s and HVD Semillons on the vine and although the chemistry looks like they are ready to pick, they still do not have enough flavour and so we have decided to gamble on possible major rain Sunday and Monday and leave them out to get properly ripe.  By this time next week there will be virtually no white left to pick.
We tested the first Shiraz today and it is a bit higher in sugar than I expected.  We may have some Shiraz fermenting by next weekend.  We have 25 tonnes of Semillon to be picked tonight and after that we are finished for the weekend.  Let’s hope that most of the rain stays north of the Hunter Valley or a quiet weekend might stretch into next week.  All the weather reports say 10 – 14 days of fine weather.  So, I am not too worried about what we have left.
To date, we have picked just over 500 tonnes……..180 tonnes of Chardonnay, 150 tonnes of Semillon, 127 tonnes of Verdelho and 56 tonnes of Pinot Noir.

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