Vintage 2012 kick off: Bringing in the fruit…

The sun is back out and spirits are high after an inch of rain put everything on hold for a few days. We managed to pull in our entire Rhymney ‘MV6 clone’ Pinot Noir block before the rain fell and it looks like beautiful pristine pinot noir should. We hope this will make something special.

It is hard to believe but we are already ¼ of the way through our total crush. We have nearly finished the Pinots and we have done all the Chardonnay and a little bit of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Riesling will be starting to come in at the end of the week.

The Chardonnay from two elevated blocks was all picked a couple of weeks ago at optimum ripeness and is fermenting in mainly old oak barrels. The classic chardonnay flavours are already apparent and the ferments are showing some interesting aromas.  All of our Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier have been hand-picked and hand-sorted by our select team of cellar legends. We have quite a mixed bunch this year, but all with a passion for making great wine.

The stalwarts of Andy, Jamie and Leanne are taking all the vintage madness in their stride.

Andy, who could engineer a state of the art wine press out of few sticks and reeds has put his skills to good use. Customising our cooling and heating system to suit our small batch ferments.

Jamie, our packaging and logistics manager has managed to find time to impress everyone with his skills at effortlessly dropping a fermenter into the press, whilst shipping off multiple pallets to anxious customers.

Leanne, our lab manager who is with Best’s 25 years is keeping all the systems in check and is seemingly unfazed by the endless requests of samples, analysis, induction of staff and questions, questions, questions.

The new recruits of Justin, our head winemaker and Chris, our vintage winemaker are enjoying being involved with such historic vineyards expressing their origin in the resultant flavoursome grapes. Expect to see some wines that reflect Chris’s Tasmanian background and Justin’s Old World training whilst respecting the vineyards and the traditions at Best’s.

We have the lovely Anna from the city wine store in Melbourne who is involved in all departments of fruit reception. But is mainly aiding Leanne and putting her high school chemistry to good use.

Anna has brought along her infectiously lovable Staffy terrier , Roxy who is serving as a younger replacement of the much missed red kelpie, Cooper. Cooper is enjoying his retirement after 10 years in wineries.

Our vintage cellar hands,  Alessio from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in Italy and Brandon from Queensland have over 20 vintages of experience between them and have many things in common.

They both share an occasional joke in Italian as Brandon’s grandfather is Italian and his mother spends half her time there. Both love a cold XXXX and they both have interesting hair.  One head of hair perhaps lacks attention whereas the other perhaps gets given a little too much. Brandon has 1 metre dreadlocks, and has not cut his hair for 20 years and Alessio spends a half hour a day with a hairdryer and hair gel in front of the mirror just in case there is a photographer around!

The last member of the team to join us is Arthur, from a farm just outside Paris, France. He was instantly recognised at Ararat train station with his tailored shirt and trousers, boat shoes and a sweater draped over his shoulders. Arthur is mixing his time between driving the tractor collecting grapes in his green jumpsuit and boat shoes and helping out in the winery. He is sharing a room with Alessio at Justin and Joyce’s house (Joyce is Justin’s ever supportive wife and wine quality control director). The dynamics between a classic Frenchman and renaissance Italian are proving interesting, we just hope there is not Zidane-Materazzi moment.

A lot of interesting stories have arisen over the sorting table, also known as ‘the Table of Truth’, but I will save those for the next update. For the moment please enjoy the included photos taken whilst sorting the 2012 Great Western Old Clone Pinot Noir. Note the concentration on the faces as they ensure only the most pristine fruit reaches the fermenter.

Here’s to the merriment of making and enjoying good wine!


Justin & the team


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