2019 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 1

Thu, January 24th 2019  /   No Comment

Well we all have survived the first week and a bit of Vintage 2019.  Monday through to Saturday last week were a run of hot to very hot days, but with some relief at night that allowed us to get some machine harvesting done.  After a bit of mucking around with the machines they have picked quickly and provided us with a very clean lot of fruit.  I suppose last week should be hot because it is right in the middle of summer, and after Monday we were looking for the southerly change that was due Saturday night and hope that we might get some rain to refresh the vines and to cool the air.  We got the cold change on Saturday night, and 6mm of rain this morning.  The worry at the beginning of the week was how much damage the heat might cause to the chemistry or the general condition of the leaves (I got sun burnt on Monday filming the 7.30 Report and we certainly do not want the vines to peel as badly as I did).

We have started with as good picking team as I think we have ever had. The only Australians are grey nomads and the rest are from about 12 different countries with the biggest numbers from France, UK and the USA.  Tuesday, 15 January we tested all of the Chardonnay and Verdelho to get a picking plan into place. We handpicked 9.75 tonnes from Penfold Vale to get started and this is for our yet to be replaced Blanc de Blancs sparkling, which came in spot on 10 baume which is perfect for this wine. The Chardonnay test showed everything basically the same in good condition and with the flavours arriving earlier than last year.  We will probably start on Friday, and probably will not stop until all the Chardonnay is off.

On the 17 and 18 January we went back with the mechanical harvester to Penfold Vale to pick the Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut and still had 13 tonnes of Chardonnay there to pick Saturday night for Hunter Valley.  Penfold Vale was down 20 tonnes on last year, which was all accounted for by reduced berry size from the drought.

All the Verdelho was picked on Friday night / Saturday morning.  The crop was approximately half of last years, and this confirmed my belief that this Vintage “the good vineyards that have been well looked after will perform well, but the ordinary vineyards that have lacked attention will be a mess”.  We did a full test of all remaining Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on Sunday morning the 20 January, and again they all tested the same but there were no signs of any greenness but the sugars are still a bit lower than we would like.  I do not think we will have any high alcohol Chardonnay this year.  We picked NVC and the Road Block Chardonnay this morning, and whilst they were OK they came in less than they tested.  We will pull the pin now and leave picking for one or two days, but will also start testing Semillon to see if we can find something to keep the crusher working ie. Stevens or Pokolbin Hills later in the week.

No great worries for the rest of this week except a couple of hot days, and perhaps a lack of patience.


Bruce Tyrrell


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