Vintage 2013 #1

Matt (driving) and Mark in the Pinot grisNatalie tipping bunches into Press

At last I’m getting the hang of our new website and working my fingers to the bone on the keyboard for the first news of the 2013 vintage.

Well, the waiting is now over and vintage began this week with a bang. So many varieties are ready at the same time – not like the usual 4-8 weeks from first (Chardonnay) to last (Cabernet)!
It’s been a tough old growing season with the lowest ever rainfall recorded between 1st September and 1st February…..along with the highest maximum temperatures through the first 6 weeks of the year. However, despite all that, the vines have come through it pretty well and, given we hand harvest, any grapes that haven’t simply won’t be picked. And although there have been fires and smoke along much of the Great Divide (from the Grampians in the west to Mt Hotham in the north east) we have, thankfully, been spared….this year at any rate.
I was thinking only this morning what the great satirist/song smith/comedian/mathematician Tom Lehrer (my dad loved him and my first memories of any ‘song’ is Werner von Braun) would make of climate change and the Sceptic putsch given his views on pollution, race relations and nuclear proliferation (amongst many others)!
It finally rained in the last 10 days of February with 50mm on the 21st and then a further 70mm a week later……a very welcome relief.

Given the very hot year Andy and I have decided not to make any sparkling base wines from 2013: the upside of this is that we’re again going to make a small amount of Rose from the Pinot noir…..for our Club and mailing list members and patrons of the Cellar Door.
Yesterday we finished harvesting the Chardonnay, today we’re into the winery Pinot gris block, and then tomorrow some Pinot for the Rose.

The photos are of the winery block Pinot gris being picked and the last of the Chardonnay being loaded into the press by Natalie – bypassing the crusher/de-stemmer. This is something we’ve done for the last few years and it leads to ‘purer’ juice as there’s very little skin contact. This is especially important with Pinot gris and Gewürztraminer as, due to their purple and pink skins (respectively), they are prone to ‘pinking’. The best antidote for which is to use various fining/decolouring agents – not part of what I’d term natural winemaking and not an option we go for at Delatite!

We have a great vintage team of vini-roos; Natalie (California, but hails from Kansas), Salvatore (Sicily, but born in Belgium), and Pascal (son and nephew of some great German friends of ours). They’ve been very busy for the last few weeks; cleaning equipment plus oak puncheons for whites, bottling the last of the 2012 aromatics to make room for the new vintage, sampling the grapes, and doing some last summer training of the 8ha vineyard we planted over the last two years. Unfortunately none of them understand the finer (or even broader) points of either cricket or aussie rules…..but they’re pretty handy in the winery and vineyard and have come to us because of our minimalist approach.

In terms of the whites the Chardonnay, Pinot gris and Riesling are all looking outstanding and the gewurz has, amazingly, retained relatively good acidity despite the number of warm nights recently. For reds it’s looking very good for them all, especially the Pinot noir and Shiraz – though the latter still has a way to go. And Andy, now into his fifth vintage here, has even been heard to say that the Malbec could be “quite good” this year (though not to me)!

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