2017 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 4

Thu, March 9th 2017  /   No Comment

Last Thursday night, to catch up on the loss of last Wednesday night’s picking, we brought Neil Stevens’ harvester in to pick along-side ours, and picked the balance of Chardonnay on Penfold Vale and Semillon on HVD, which gave a night shift a pick of 90 tonnes. Every Vintage has a “bad hair day” and that was last Friday. After the big night Thursday night the hand picking crews were picking more than expected, and at separate times we blew the door seals on two of the three white presses. One we had working again by 11am, and the other one did not blow until later in the day so had little impact.

Thursday, during the day, we picked the rest of the Vat 1 from the Short Flat and the DeBeyers. The Vat 1 was vibrant green juice with strong flavour and structure. Friday morning we went to Pokolbin Hills to finish the last 10 acres of Semillon there, which we did by 2.30pm just as it started to get hot. Lots of comparisons with this juice to the 1994, which won everything in the wine shows. All the hand picking of white is now finished. Friday night we picked the last batch of Hunter Valley Semillon, and the last few tonnes of HVD Pinot Noir which had lost some juice and has incredible colour and depth. So the white Vintage is over in 15 days with only 11 days of picking. Although the work is over in the vineyard for the whites, the winery has another two weeks of working with the ferments. All in all we are very pleased with the Semillon and Chardonnay right across the board.

Saturday morning we tested about half of the Shiraz. It has deep colours, the acids are falling and the sugar and the flavour is coming but it is not there yet. So a quiet weekend for everyone, and we waited until we tested Shiraz again on Monday. All we had to do is put up with the heat over the weekend. We are in a similar situation to two weeks ago when we wanted to pick the whites but they just were not quite there. The decision to wait with the whites was certainly the right one.

We had a small start with 7 or 8 tonnes of Shiraz from Matthews and Weinkeller (pictured on the left) for insurance as much as anything, and there looks like no reason why these two ferments will not end up in Vat 9.  The Gamay came off skins this morning, and it is going to be so easy to drink there will be lucky to be any left by the time we get to bottling. The only real problem that we have ahead of us is rain over an extended period, but the forecast is not showing us that. With a little bit of rain during the day on Wednesday we dodged the big falls that hit Sydney on Tuesday. We went to Denman on Tuesday to look at 30 tonnes of Shiraz. It is in the best condition it has been in years, having lost the last three vintages; one to smoke taint and two to rot.

We tested again Thursday morning and tomorrow it starts! Apart from Saturday afternoon through to Sunday night to midnight I think we will keep picking Shiraz until it is over. Johnno’s will be picked tomorrow morning, Stevens Old Patch on Saturday morning, plus more of the blocks of Vat 9.

Hopefully the fruit survives the next three days of 40 plus weather. There is still plenty of soil moisture, and plenty of good leaf to keep them going.

M Bruce Tyrrell AM
Managing Director

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