2021 Vintage Report from Bruce Tyrrell – Edition 1

Tue, January 12th 2021  /   No Comment

What a difference this year is to 2020.  No smoke haze and green grass in the paddocks rather than bare dirt.

The growing season has been a bit of an old fashioned one and reminds me a bit of some of the years in the 1970s.  With the end of four years of drought we got a good season as I expected and we have a good solid crop which again fits in with nature’s usual cycle.  2020 received more than double 2019’s rainfall and the vines, and the bush in general, have reacted with plenty of growth.  The grass and the vines are growing as we watch them, the dams are full and the sky is clear bright blue.

The last three to four weeks have been cool and we have received more rain than we would have liked, and it is only in the last five or six days that we have been able to get back into the vineyard to slash to increase airflow through the vines to help them dry out and to get fungicides on to protect the fruit.  The new moon is due on the 13 January and if it comes in dry the weather will normally stay relatively dry for the next month.

If we get this dry month then we should have the quality Vintage we need.  Although two weeks ago I was concerned that if the rain kept up for another month the quality of 2021 would have been dubious.  We had a good look through the vineyards on Thursday and Friday of last week, and we will take a few samples today, and maybe we will pick something late this week, but I suspect nothing serious until the weeks after.  I would not be surprised if Vintage drags on a bit this year and we do not finish until the end of February.

Crop levels look good without being enormous and the better reds will all need crop thinning to ensure that we get the intensity of colour and flavour that we want.  The District, in general, had hail earlier in December and some of the crop thinning has already been done.  For us the worst was the Penfold Vale Chardonnay, which has lost approximately 50% of the crop to the hail.

We have had great help from the local Press to fill up our picking teams.  Three weeks ago we only had less than half the pickers we needed, but we are now up to sufficient numbers.  I am pleased to say that ‘we are able to offer work to many local people’.

For a bit of interest this year we have been able to secure a few tonnes of Fiano and Roussanne to make a couple of interesting new whites.  We made Fiano eight years ago for a contract customer and it won the ‘Best Young White” at the Hunter Valley Wine Show and now we have a permanent supply and we will be making it on a regular basis.  I first tried Roussanne at a tiny winery in the Northern Rhone out of an old barrel and have wanted to make that style ever since.

I am looking out my window and the sky is blue and clear and I hope it stays that way for a while to come yet.

Bruce Tyrrell