2018 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 3
Mon, January 29th 2018 / No Comment
On Monday, 22 January 2018 we headed into the last week of whites with a quiet first 24 hours as we are still looking for more flavour development in the Semillons. The sugar levels were right, the flavours not quite there, plus we were looking at a hot week ahead with temperatures in the high 30s to the low 40s and not the slightest sign of rain on the horizon. On Monday night had a couple of small batches of Chardonnay from our grape growers with one of them from Deasys Road being in the best condition of any fruit we have taken this year.On Tuesday morning we were due to pick Debeyers Semillon, and then on Wednesday finish picking Vat 1 on the Short Flat, however there was a slip of instructions in the vineyard. I turned up at Debeyers at 6.30am and could not find the pickers so I went to the Short Flat and they were there, so the picking of the two blocks got reversed for very little difference, except a couple of embarrassed people. Tuesday night the harvester got back into HVD and two thirds of the “Lost Block” was picked, and we will clean up the balance on Wednesday night. This will finish all machine harvesting of our own whites. Machine harvesting has gone without a hitch, and the machine is picking as cleanly as the hand pickers. In HVD you would hardly know that there has been a machine there.
Wednesday morning we re-tested HVD Sign Post and the Belford Semillon as these were the only two blocks of Semillon left to hand pick. Belford had slightly better flavour and so we decided to go there first and in the end it had a smaller crop so it should have been the riper of the two blocks. I tasted it out of tank yesterday, and it will take some beating for the ‘Best Semillon of the Year’. Normally it takes more than a day to pick Belford but the crew got over it by 2.00pm, and so will come in Friday morning to make a start on the HVD Sign Post and come back and finish it on Saturday. It is a little higher than normal in sugar but has good acid and lots of flavour in the middle pallet.
Interesting, the crop level variance between the white varieties – Chardonnay has cropped about the same as last year and 15% to 20% above our estimates. Semillon however is quite the other way – down by about 25% on last year. This is down for two reasons I believe, one is the dehydration of the berries, and the other is that we had a very big crop from the Semillon in 2017 and you always get a smaller one the next year. The dehydration has come a lot through an almost complete lack of humidity, which is normally a skurge at this time of the year, and I would still be prepared to give away something valuable for a decent thunder storm. For the white vintage the vineyards that have had irrigation have probably produced the best fruit as they have gone through the season without any real stress, and I would think that taking into account our current weather conditions that any further plantings we do will all have drip irrigation.
Saturday we did a complete Shiraz test so we can get both a short and long term plan for picking, and a bit like the first Chardonnay and Semillon tests there is plenty of sugar but still a number of blocks that need to get some more flavour. The colour of the fruit is brilliant, and I think we are going to look forward to some very good reds.
PS. Picked Johnno’s and most of Weinkeller Shiraz today. The juice was in magic condition and unless there is a mistake in the winery there will most certainly be a Johnno’s and Vat 9 in 2018.