pacha mama blog

Vintage 2015 (#V15)

In a nutshell:

Total vineyard visits: 48
Total litres of wine produced: 100,000L
Average daily phone calls between Cal and Nina: 8
Total number of cakes consumed: 32 each
Total number of healthy lunches/green smoothies: 4

Once upon a time, in a land far far away.... That's how long ago vintage seems as we sit down to write our vintage report on this crisp glorious autumn day in April.

Vintage is always a rather surreal time for everyone involved with grapes and wine, an intense, exhilarating, frustrating, stressful, wonderful, and rewarding time when anything is possible and nothing is a given - much like raising children for any parents out there! Perhaps that's why we all need a glass or 2 at 5pm?

Anyway we digress... This year, vintage 2015 (aka #V15) crept up and pounced on us with all it's aromatic juicy might.  The long Indian summer, with cooler than average temps and an absence of the horrendous heat waves of 2014, gave the vineyards ample time to develop flavour and phenolic ripeness in balance with sugar accumulation and acid reduction - an increasingly fine balance viticulturists and winemakers have to strive to achieve in vineyards throughout Australia.

We began our pilgrimage of sampling from Heathcote, through Central Victoria, the Yarra Valley, and Alpine Valley in late January, and saw a consistent pattern across Victoria and across all varietals - with flavours developing beautifully, yet analysis showing low sugar (Baume levels) and really high acids. This may sound scary, but in fact warmed our hearts (and palates!).Years when sugar levels increase rapidly and acids fall quickly, aromatics and flavours are often shy - and we have to juggle these elements to ensure we don't have high alcohol levels in our final wines.Luckily (in case the boss is reading this) we stayed focused and kept checking all the vineyards we source from on a regular weekly basis, so we didn't get a fright when suddenly our Heathcote Shiraz jumped 2 Baume in 4 days, catching up with the lovely flavours, and bringing the projected harvest date forward by about 2 weeks!

Logistical challenges abound during harvest, and moving a harvest date in a hurry always has it's hiccups, which is why our first advice to anyone starting out in this industry is make friends with the truck drivers!! Thanks to David Finnigan, and the lovely Tony from Freshberry! (We have bribed them with lots of wine over the last few years - it does after all make the world go around).

Almost mimicking what we saw in Heathcote, our Pinot vineyard in Coldstream sub region of the Yarra Valley also did it's best to turn our hair prematurely grey, jumping 2 Baume in little under 1 week.We usually expect 1 Baume per week and had been surprised that we were seeing no movement for weeks at a time.   Again to add to the logistical implications of bringing a harvest date forward, the weather gods decided to dump 30mls of rain on this vineyard 2 days before the harvesting team (who hand pick our Pinot and Chardonnay) were booked to start picking.  We cancelled and rescheduled for 4 days later allowing the rain dilution to dissipate. We are pleased to say this parcel (MV6 clone, wild fermented) looks really promising in its infancy - with great structure, weight, and length, which is so handy in our final blend.

Pinot Gris was the next one out of the blocks, and was surprisingly a well behaved angelic little creature from the beginning - a rare treat for us in the winery as Pinot Gris can take some wrangling to get it to express itself and play the game.  Rather than rest on our laurels we made life really complicated for ourselves (to bring you a complex little wine - selfless people that we are :) ) and divided this single vineyard parcel into 8 batches, 7 of which we fermented in French oak barrels using 4 different yeast strains (for the geeks out there - QA23, X5, Siha7, and a funky little wild batch). The last little parcel we fermented in a small stainless steel tank, in very cool conditions, which captures the gentle aromatics of this lovely vineyard.

Next we expected our upper Yarra Valley vineyards to be ready, however our new project and Callie's special baby (drum roll....) - White Stripes Pinot Grigio - from the Alpine Valley near King Valley, was ready to go. So after a full day in the cellar Callie jumped in her car, drove 3 hours, got to the vineyard to do a final taste test at 8pm, confirmed the harvesters were good to go, slept for 3 hours, up at 2am, over to the winery for press-cut, back to bed for an hour, then drove back to the Yarra, did a full days work, and had to be sent home because she was literally falling asleep stirring barrels! Now that's dedication!

Upper Yarra Chardonnay and Pinot started coming in - all hand picked and disease free which was a major win - as did our first Riesling from near Nagambie.By this stage Nina's pregnancy had inflicted an exorbitant amount of cake on the team, and a coup-of-sorts was staged whereby cake was ruled banned and Callie's green smoothies were reinstated as the morning tea of choice.  Fun police were called but even they agreed Nina's cake consumption needed to be quashed.  On a positive note we found the phenolic levels in the Chardonnay were very un-aggressive, and coupled with gentle whole bunch pressing yielded really beautiful juice for barrel fermentation. This year we purchased new French oak puncheons for our Chardonnay - such beautiful vessels they are almost art installations! Approximately 20% of our Chardonnay is fermented in new oak with the balance in older French oak.

We are now looking at putting together our Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio blends for bottling in June/July, stirring our Chardonnay, and gently nudging our reds through malolactic fermentation... And hoping for a week or two to relax and switch off!

Keep an eye out for our laneway fiesta in early September, we would love to show you our new releases then!

xx Callie and Nina

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03 May 2016
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In a nutshell:

Total vineyard visits: 48
Total litres of wine produced: 100,000L
Average daily phone calls between Cal and Nina: 8
Total number of cakes consumed: 32 each
Total number of healthy lunches/green smoothies: 4

Once upon a time, in a land far far away.... That's how long ago vintage seems as we sit down to write our vintage report on this crisp glorious autumn day in April.

Vintage is always a rather surreal time for everyone involved with grapes and wine, an intense, exhilarating, frustrating, stressful, wonderful, and rewarding time when anything is possible and nothing is a given - much like raising children for any parents out there! Perhaps that's why we all need a glass or 2 at 5pm?

Anyway we digress... This year, vintage 2015 (aka #V15) crept up and pounced on us with all it's aromatic juicy might.  The long Indian summer, with cooler than average temps and an absence of the horrendous heat waves of 2014, gave the vineyards ample time to develop flavour and phenolic ripeness in balance with sugar accumulation and acid reduction - an increasingly fine balance viticulturists and winemakers have to strive to achieve in vineyards throughout Australia.

We began our pilgrimage of sampling from Heathcote, through Central Victoria, the Yarra Valley, and Alpine Valley in late January, and saw a consistent pattern across Victoria and across all varietals - with flavours developing beautifully, yet analysis showing low sugar (Baume levels) and really high acids. This may sound scary, but in fact warmed our hearts (and palates!).Years when sugar levels increase rapidly and acids fall quickly, aromatics and flavours are often shy - and we have to juggle these elements to ensure we don't have high alcohol levels in our final wines.Luckily (in case the boss is reading this) we stayed focused and kept checking all the vineyards we source from on a regular weekly basis, so we didn't get a fright when suddenly our Heathcote Shiraz jumped 2 Baume in 4 days, catching up with the lovely flavours, and bringing the projected harvest date forward by about 2 weeks!

Logistical challenges abound during harvest, and moving a harvest date in a hurry always has it's hiccups, which is why our first advice to anyone starting out in this industry is make friends with the truck drivers!! Thanks to David Finnigan, and the lovely Tony from Freshberry! (We have bribed them with lots of wine over the last few years - it does after all make the world go around).

Almost mimicking what we saw in Heathcote, our Pinot vineyard in Coldstream sub region of the Yarra Valley also did it's best to turn our hair prematurely grey, jumping 2 Baume in little under 1 week.We usually expect 1 Baume per week and had been surprised that we were seeing no movement for weeks at a time.   Again to add to the logistical implications of bringing a harvest date forward, the weather gods decided to dump 30mls of rain on this vineyard 2 days before the harvesting team (who hand pick our Pinot and Chardonnay) were booked to start picking.  We cancelled and rescheduled for 4 days later allowing the rain dilution to dissipate. We are pleased to say this parcel (MV6 clone, wild fermented) looks really promising in its infancy - with great structure, weight, and length, which is so handy in our final blend.

Pinot Gris was the next one out of the blocks, and was surprisingly a well behaved angelic little creature from the beginning - a rare treat for us in the winery as Pinot Gris can take some wrangling to get it to express itself and play the game.  Rather than rest on our laurels we made life really complicated for ourselves (to bring you a complex little wine - selfless people that we are :) ) and divided this single vineyard parcel into 8 batches, 7 of which we fermented in French oak barrels using 4 different yeast strains (for the geeks out there - QA23, X5, Siha7, and a funky little wild batch). The last little parcel we fermented in a small stainless steel tank, in very cool conditions, which captures the gentle aromatics of this lovely vineyard.

Next we expected our upper Yarra Valley vineyards to be ready, however our new project and Callie's special baby (drum roll....) - White Stripes Pinot Grigio - from the Alpine Valley near King Valley, was ready to go. So after a full day in the cellar Callie jumped in her car, drove 3 hours, got to the vineyard to do a final taste test at 8pm, confirmed the harvesters were good to go, slept for 3 hours, up at 2am, over to the winery for press-cut, back to bed for an hour, then drove back to the Yarra, did a full days work, and had to be sent home because she was literally falling asleep stirring barrels! Now that's dedication!

Upper Yarra Chardonnay and Pinot started coming in - all hand picked and disease free which was a major win - as did our first Riesling from near Nagambie.By this stage Nina's pregnancy had inflicted an exorbitant amount of cake on the team, and a coup-of-sorts was staged whereby cake was ruled banned and Callie's green smoothies were reinstated as the morning tea of choice.  Fun police were called but even they agreed Nina's cake consumption needed to be quashed.  On a positive note we found the phenolic levels in the Chardonnay were very un-aggressive, and coupled with gentle whole bunch pressing yielded really beautiful juice for barrel fermentation. This year we purchased new French oak puncheons for our Chardonnay - such beautiful vessels they are almost art installations! Approximately 20% of our Chardonnay is fermented in new oak with the balance in older French oak.

We are now looking at putting together our Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio blends for bottling in June/July, stirring our Chardonnay, and gently nudging our reds through malolactic fermentation... And hoping for a week or two to relax and switch off!

Keep an eye out for our laneway fiesta in early September, we would love to show you our new releases then!

xx Callie and Nina