May 2011 Archives

My thoughts on the 2011 vintage


I guess my first comment would be 'hard work'. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE vintage!!! It is the performance of the year. I get carried away in the excitement and rush of discovering whether what I've done in the vineyard has paid off. Normally it never feels like work. This year, however, for many batches it did. It was a combination of bad bird damage, very hot temperatures right throughout vintage and a series of unpredictable events, like a bushfire and power black out before our biggest harvest day!

For those who don't know, over here in the West, we are in a period of drought. Last year in Bickley we received only half our annual rainfall - a mere 573mm instead of our average of around 1000mm. We are still waiting for our autumn rains as I write, with many of the vines hanging onto their leaves due to our prolonged Indian summer. Much of our old orchard planted by my grandparents didn't make it through the summer, which I think broke Mum's heart. But we did manage to keep the water up to some of our oldest orange trees (it's on our label, after all!) and plum trees (though I'm yet to convince the Perth RAS jam judges of my plum jam making skills).

"The more wine I taste, the more I realise that what I want to drink is a wine with an honest story"

As a primary producer who is in direct contact with the land and seasons, it is worrying that STILL the production of alternate sources of energy is not a primary consideration for the government. Last year's weather patterns only increases my anxiety about the future of our planet. What heritage are we leaving our children? It is time to think of the bigger picture.

But I deviate ... in terms of our little winery, all our red wines are now through malolactic fermentation and getting ready for The Deep Winter Sleep. I think the feeling parents get when they put their kids down for the night is a little akin to how we winemakers feel when our wines are through malo. It means we can take a few deep breaths before the pruning season and bottling begins.

Looking at the wines post malo, I think we have achieved some good results from a difficult vintage. In fact, if I'm honest with myself, I am more pleased with the wines now than how I felt about them during vintage. In my opinion, 2011 is the year of Shiraz in the Perth Hills. It is the best Shiraz I've made since returning to the Hills in 2007. In fact, all the old vine batches (malbec, shiraz and cabernet) look fantastic. They have a voice. They have something to say about their season and vintage. As I said to a colleague at a tasting last week, the great thing about estate wineries or single site wines is that each vintage presents a bottled history of a vineyard's life. Some years are better than others, but each vintage is a story and an honest reflection of what the vineyard faced that year. Surely it is more interesting to be a part of that wine's history than to drink a wine which does nothing to engage you because the wine has been warped and blended and bended to fit winemaking specs or something that the winemaker wants to create rather than what the vineyard has already created. The more wine I taste, the more I realise that what I want to drink is a wine with an honest story.

Other news of note is that our May Harvest Festival was especially successful with many new and old customers dropping in to say hi and pick up their dozen or 2. It is always so humbling to hear your encouragement and good wishes. It is what keeps us going in what is still a very difficult time.

Our best wishes to you and your families.

Lara, Di  and the Aldersyde team (including Oban and Zoe whose happy tails don't know the meaning of a 16 hr day..)