2014 Vintage Report Edition 4 - from Bruce Tyrrell

Fri, January 31st 2014   /   No comments

The last week of white, and a touch of rain.

Last Friday evening we received 10ml of rain, which served to just kick the last of the Semillon over the line.  There was just enough moisture to get the vines working again and create the flavour that we have been looking for.  An interesting comparison to last year – 2014 long weekend had 10 ml of rain and 2013 long weekend had 156 ml of rain.  Another 15 – 30 ml would be very handy at the moment.

The weather for this last week has been largely unchanged.  Maximum temperatures low to mid 30’s and minimum temperatures as low as 11.4.  Last Saturday was the hottest day of the week at 39.6 and the minimum temperature on Saturday was 13.6, which is a very big spread.  The fruit remains cold first thing in the morning.  We did very little picking on the weekend;  Saturday night was the last of John Tulloch’s Verdelho and Sunday night we started on the Lost Block and Brookdale Semillon bases on HVD.  Monday morning we started picking Semillon on the Flat for Vat 1 - after a cold night and a clear, dry day with top temperature of 32.  Certainly ideal grape picking weather; the French girls who dominate our picking team are all smiling.

The fruit, all of last week, has been in exceptional condition – a little bit uneven but the juice in the tank is the best for this vintage.  Wednesday, we picked Johnno’s to be basket pressed, and De Beyers.  By then, the Semillon vines were starting to shut down and the leaves look like autumn is about to begin.  Wednesday night, finished machine harvesting HVD and Thursday night cleaned up some bits and pieces around the winery.  Thursday and Friday, during the day, off to Belford.  Finished it this morning and picked two Vats of Shiraz from Weinkeller.

So, the white vintage is over in January and if you are looking to help with vintage in the Hunter, then the last week of February – you will miss it.  I think that there will be not very much left in two weeks time.

We did our first major Shiraz test on Thursday morning and got alcohol equivalent readings between 12 – 15.5 Baume’ but not many of them have sufficient flavour or development to be ready to pick.  Will test again on Sunday morning to decide where we go on Monday.

I spoke to Adam Currie this morning at Heathcote and he is facing another week of 40+ conditions.  Veraison is almost complete with only a few green berries left.  He has been irrigating at 48 litres per vine per week to ensure there is enough moisture in the soil to carry the vines through these very hot conditions.  His quote of the week….”you just need to close your eyes during the heat of the day because the vines don’t look good at 3.00 pm; with the leaf cupped and the vines looking like they want to throw in the towel, but they manage to bounce back better than expected as soon as the cool nights hit them.”  So much for the Hunter being a hot, wet vintage area.  This year, we have had hot days, cold nights, virtually no rain, and sounds like we are in Tasmania.


Bruce Tyrrell.


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