Great Western is experiencing some beautiful autumn weather at the moment, with very cool crisp nights and clear, warm sunny days; ideal for ripening Shiraz grapes to the optimum balance of flavour and freshness. We are having more of a battle against the birds at the moment. Those pesky balls of colour, mirth and grace are gorging on ripe grapes until their bellies burst, but they still come back for more. When i was winemaking in Italy, I asked the question if they have any issues with birds in the vineyards? “No, the farmers eat them all”, was the reply. Does anyone have a wine match for a swallow pie?
In the cellar we have the first lot of the Thomson Family Shiraz nearing dryness and it is already presenting a complex spectrum of aromas and flavours. This small batch ferment was foot stomped and hand plunged to ensure a delicate maceration of the berries. Another small batch which is nearly dry is the 66 (or Bart’s) block Shiraz. It too has wonderful aromatics and flavours that should make it to the Bin 0 grade.
Our Dolcetto was basket pressed to tank the other day and is revealing those sweet perfumed aromas we love about this variety. The rieslings are fermenting nice and slow to preserve all those floral notes. Contrary to this we have some rambunctious reds that are being tamed by Viv’s famous rack and return technique. This involves removing all the fermenting juice from the skins and then pumped backed over the top. This ensures a good blend of the skins/ free run and aids the yeast with a good aeration and cooling the ferment temperature. He deftly drained the tank to another then proclaimed he had to go for an appointment and left all the fun work for the cellar crew! A mentor in many ways is Viv Thomson!
We are pushing ourselves to pick as much fruit as possible during these ideal conditions. Ben Thomson is miraculously able to organize this within his hectic schedule. His token response is, ‘I’ll work it out,’ and he always does.
Pray the fine weather continues and we may have all the fruit in by Easter!
Justin and the team