2016 Tyrrell’s Vintage Report – Edition 4…from Bruce Tyrrell
Fri, February 12th 2016 / No Comment
This has been almost a perfect week weather wise; clear skies, high 20 degrees maximum and a little bit of breeze to keep the pickers cool. The only criticism of the weather gods would be quite dewy still mornings. The week saw us finish all the Semillon and get a start on the Shiraz. Interestingly, since we started picking, we have had only 57.5 mm of rain and for the same time last year, we had over 300mm.
Monday, we finished Belford and HVD Semillons and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, picked the Chardonnay and second half of the Semillon at Pokolbin Hills at almost the same sugar levels as the first batch two weeks ago. Sugar levels hadn’t changed in the Semillon as the leaves have shut down and now look like it’s autumn. I was happy with the Pokolbin Hills Semillon as I have been prepared to sacrifice it to make sure we get the best possible out of HVD and Belford. Thankfully, we only lost about two tonnes in a little sheltered corner that gets no wind. This is always going to be a problem unless we blow up half of Tinkler’s trees next door. The first Shiraz was crushed on Tuesday morning from a contract customer – on Monday, it tested 12.8 alcohol equivalent but had gone up to 13.8 in the fermenter. This was basically from the extra sugar picked up in the shrivelled berries. Wednesday, was picking the Shiraz with both machine and hand pickers; good sugars and good colours, but will need to be careful with ferment management to make sure we don’t destroy the skins and extract too much tannin. More Shiraz from across the road from the winery on Thursday and today, we have picked a big chunk at the back of Weinkeller, which should form a base for Vat 9. Tomorrow, we will go into Stevens’ Old Hillside and start picking the Old Patch. The Shiraz are in two lots at the moment; what we are picking is as close to ripe as we are going to get and the other half is still green and we are going to have to wait until end of next week. Where we start to pick next week will be determined by Sunday’s temperature, which is forecast to be 37⁰C, and this is about when the vines shut down. The concern is that the fruit will be very shrivelled by exposure to those temperatures and we could lose more of the scant amount of working leaf that we still have left. But, all in all, this time next week the Hunter vintage will be as good as over and will look about over four odd weeks and think how lucky we are to have got so much good fruit into the winery.
Andrew Pengilly and Mark Richardson are in Heathcote today and we plan to start picking there Wednesday night next week. Funnily, we had the same amount of rain in the Hunter in December as the Heathcote region has had in the last 12 months.
This week has also seen the first real use of the new red fermentation area, which has worked almost perfectly with just a couple of little teething problems. It will certainly make our red vintage a lot easier physically, and give us another couple of percent of quality.