2017 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 1
Fri, January 20th 2017 / No Comment
2017 Vintage is well and truly underway, and it is a week earlier than I thought it would be through the growing season. Everything started off well, good rain over winter but most importantly 75mm of rain during the Christmas/New Year period, which has given enough soil moisture to the dry grown vines to get them through the number of 40 degree plus days we have had in January. The vines look remarkably healthy for the heat they have gone through.
We started last Friday with 8 tonnes of Chardonnay for the yet to be released Super Premium Blanc de Blanc sparkling. The juice came out of the press at 10 baume and 10 acid, which is about as good as it gets. Monday we returned to Penfold Vale for the base of the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling, and this was a little bit riper and fuller in flavour than Friday, and again just what we wanted. Tuesday we picked two small blocks of top Chardonnay off the home property, which will both go close to Vat 47 quality: lime-green colour and fine fresh flavour out of the press.
Wednesday we picked all the Pinot Noir here for red with a bit over 13 alcohol equivalent, with good colour and the best flavour and chemistry we have had for a few years. It has been great to start Vintage with all clean and perfectly confirmed fruit, and the Pinot Noir took almost exactly half the number of man hours to pick this year against last year, which is mostly because of the quality of the fruit but also we have got a really good team of pickers, less backpackers but a lot more locals which is something I prefer. Thursday we picked all the Chardonnay at Belford and from the 1908 vines on HVD. Both will be between 12.5 and 13 alcohol, fine and elegant, which is perfect for HVD but a little bit lighter in style for the Belford. Today we picked the three oldest Chardonnay blocks on the Short Flat and all will go direct to Vat 47. I would have liked to have picked the balance tomorrow, but they are just not quite ready so we will wait until Monday to finish it off with a bit more flavour and a little bit higher sugars.
Last night we picked our little bit of Traminer and kicked off the Verdelho, which should be all over in the early hours of Sunday morning. Crop levels on our own vineyards with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are about the same as last year, and on target. The Verdelho from our growers looks like it is going to be down by 20–25%. Some of the grower Chardonnay, which came in last night, is also down considerably in crop. The impact of a few tough years for grape growers is showing, with not enough money for fertiliser and impacting their crop levels. We are going to have a break tomorrow, and just let things get a bit riper. Logistically, I would love to keep picking but the grapes are just not ready so we will wait and see what next week brings. It will however bring our first ever Gamay, which everyone is looking forward to having a play with.
The Semillon tests today have shown that they will be ready to go next week, and we are actually picking the first little bit tonight.
M Bruce Tyrrell AM