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These grapes are great. It’s a pity we don’t have more of them”.
Flies on the walls at Best’s would have heard this phrase uttered often this vintage. We did have lower yields than we’d have liked, due to the lack of water, but the upside is the lower yields have contributed to more concentration, and the moderate weather has meant the wines will still be medium bodied and fine. Quality has been very good across the board for both the reds and whites, with bright varietal aromas and rich flavours.
Although the summer was warm and dry, the vines weren’t exposed to any nasty heat waves, which meant they faired reasonably well. A succession of cooler nights from late summer into autumn provided ‘hang time’ to allow the grapes’ flavours to develop slowly.
Then, 100mm of rain in the Great Western area in early January gave the vines a great boost, as the soil was very dry. The vines are nearly all picked now, just our 13 Acre Cabernet Block remains. (Cabernet is always the last to come in but this year it’s worth the wait.)
Among our usual suspects assisting at vintage time has been Joe Warren, former chef turned winemaker from Queensland, and Raphael Mulligan, a French sommelier from Rockpool in Sydney. With Great Western temperatures plummeting to a chilly 2C, Rabs and Raf, as they are affectionately known, have begged, borrowed and stolen every piece of warm clothing available to survive the bleak conditions working atop the outdoor red fermenters. (I would not be surprised if they have been tempted to bathe in the heat of the red ferment!)
During the off-season and quiet times (which are few and far between), we’ve been tweaking, servicing and upgrading the tools and toys in the winery. And this vintage we’ve been able to test them out properly. Our cooling system has been serviced and upgraded to cool more tanks and to produce more flow. Despite an orchestra of weird and wonderful noises emanating from the liquid flowing through a serpentine network of pipes, the upgrade is certainly a relief for weary winemakers (and questioning wives!), who previously made midnight checks to ensure a tank wasn’t too hot or too cold.
I believe 2015 will be remembered as a low-yield year with good wines, similar to 2009 and 2014, but without heat waves reducing quality. In terms of style, it will be similar to 2012 or 2014 – fine, rich varietal wines without excess weight. I can’t wait to try the 2015 wines down the track.
Best’s Great Western