2014 Vintage Report Edition 2 - from Bruce Tyrrell

Fri, January 17th 2014   /   No comments

Last weekend we did no picking and the weather was similar to Friday – mid to late 30’s, clear skies, very little wind.  We were starting to get concerned about rising sugar levels with the hot days that were forecast for this week and made the decision to get started to try and beat the impact of the forecast of almost 40ºC for the end of the week.  All the chardonnay was getting close and the flavours were starting to catch up by Monday.  All the semillon we looked at over the weekend was still as green as grass and at least a week away with the exception of Stevens’, who we thought was a bit closer and maybe more susceptible to the impact of the heat.

Spare a thought for Adam Currie at Heathcote, who has veraison happening and a week of forecast tops of 45ºC.

Monday morning, 13th January, was a full picking crew for the NVC Chardonnay, and Jason’s “All Stars” warehouse and production picking team, were allocated the precious, just short of a tonne, DeBeyer’s Chardonnay.  It was a perfect picking day at 25ºC, bit of cloud cover and some breeze.  The picking team, for the first real day, performed above expectations.  Again, the forecast was telling us serious heat at the end of the week, which put the pressure on to get all the good chardonnay off quickly.

Tuesday, 14th January, continued picking on the Flat for Vat 47 – moved picking time forward to 5.30 am start so the last they can finish is 2.00 pm before the worst of heat.  Old Vines, Well Block and Appletree chardonnay were almost perfect fruit.  The Old Vines was 13.2 Baume, 7 acid and 3.35 pH and all have really good flavours.  The picking team did another 20 tonnes for the day.  Started harvesting that night with some Chardonnay, Semillon and Verdelho from a range of different growers.  Stevens Semillon was a little greener than we expected and so we have stopped Neil picking for another few days. 

Wednesday, 15th January, Andrews Block Chardonnay on the Short Flat was not ready to pick but the Pinot Noir on the Hill was and so is now all in the cellar.  A warm night that night but still picked the Chardonnay and the Verdelho in good condition.  Bad night logistically with a number of harvester break-downs.

Thursday, 16th January, hand picked the two oldest blocks of chardonnay on HVD.  The 1908 block was just superb fruit but I may be a little biased because it is my favourite piece of vineyard.  Like the previous day, the heat caught up to the pickers by midday and we just got picked what we needed. 


Did a range of testing for picking on Friday and the weekend and it appears this hot, dry weekend has slowed the vines and there is very little difference in flavour and ripening over the past two or three days.  There was no chardonnay ready to pick and so Friday morning we took the best 13 tonnes of Robyn Drayton’s Semillon.  Thursday night we finished all the chardonnay on HVD with a harvester, plus the HVD Pinot Noir.  A long shift for the harvester driver – Trevor’s eyes looked like he had been at a week long party. 


Crop levels through the week have been up around 5 – 20% on last year although extraction rates have been a little lower than we would like – due mostly to smaller than normal berry size.  Basically, all the chardonnay this week has been basket-pressed. 

Tonight, we will have the first run of Penfold Vale Chardonnay to make sure we have some Lost Block base in the cellar.  We tested all the good Semillon this morning and none of them are really ripe.  So, we will test again on Sunday and then work out where we are going next week.

What we really need is an inch of rain to settle the dust and get the vines working again.




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