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News and Views

How important is vine age?


“How old are your vines?” is a common question at cellar door and I usually give the straight answer of 15 years old. Since the vines are vegetatively propagated (stick a cutting in the ground to make a new vine) you could also consider them to be more than 200 years old! The MV6 Pinot clone has a murky history but may have been brought to Australia from the Clos Vougeot by James Busby in 1831; amazing to think that our vines go back to a cutting that traveled to the colonies in a square rigger!

Obviously most people mean how long have the vines been in the ground at our vineyard as this is apparently an important factor in determining wine quality. Not surprising that people spruik what they have as the best and if you ask a vineyard with particularly old vines they will assert that it is a very important factor indeed!

There are, of course, many other factors most notably soil type; in a sandy soil the vine roots will penetrate the soil profile fully after only five years or so…..
For me, a more important factor is how long has the winemaker has been “married” to the vineyard: the longer the marriage goes on the better the winemaker will understand how the vineyard handles different types of seasons.
If the vines are balanced and the crops are moderate it doesn’t really matter how old the vines are, Katnook Estate won the Jimmy Watson in 1998 with a Shiraz off three year old vines!

New releases AND a vertical tasting on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend

Well it’s 7 degrees and raining here on the sunny Mornington Peninsula but it is clearing up for the weekend’s festivities!
As predicted in the last newsletter the 2014 Pinot Gris sold out but we bottled the 2015 yesterday and it’s tasting great as I sit here with the rain drumming steadily on the office roof. I am fond of saying that Gris is as close to a red that a white wine can get, a great full-bodied texture makes it perfect winter drinking!

Queens Birthday winter wine weekend 6th-8th June

Winter Wine Fest: Saturday at the Red Hill Showgrounds

Pre-book your tickets, pin your ears back and enjoy a day of tasting all the Mornington wineries under one roof. The food is provided by winery restaurants and you get to take your Riedel glass home.
Details and bookings HERE

Vertical tasting at Phaedrus Saturday-Monday

We went through the museum stock today and have worked out a rough plan for the tasting. The main draw card will of course be the Reserve Pinot vertical going back to 2003 but there are lots of other treats in store. This is free for you as a wine club member and there is no need to book.
We will also be serving a delicious cheese platter over the weekend, Shadows of blue with Pinot Noir is a match made in heaven!

New Releases
As mentioned the 2015 Pinot Gris is hot off the press and we also have the release of the 2013 Pinot Noir. Maitena and I have been conscientiously sampling this vintage for over a month pre-release to make sure it’s ready and are both really excited about the depth and ripeness of flavour melded with a backbone of structure which gives the wine power AND elegance, come down and check it out!

Mister Wolf has also been busy in his winery lair and has come out with a 2015 Sauvignon Blanc of extraordinary proportions; wild yeast and 13.5% alc/vol gives you a Blanc that dwarfs those made by the small flightless birds!

2015 Vintage Report

Well, as predicted, the 2015 vintage was indeed “interesting” and who would want it any other way?
The reflection of the growing season conditions in the wines of that vintage has fascinated countless wine “enthusiasts” over the centuries and its not about to stop anytime soon!
There are vintages which I would describe as “standard” or the Goldilocks vintage: not too hot or cold, not too¬† wet (soft) or dry (firm). The 2008, 2010 and 2012 vintages would fall into this category and the wines are all excellent examples of the region.
Then you get vintages which depart from the norm and keep us winemakers on our toes. Making nice wine in a standard vintage is easy but if you apply your standard “recipe” every year then you are going to be disappointed!

So, how was the 2015 vintage?

We had a very mild summer and didn’t see any heat waves after mid January which is generally when veraison occurs (grapes berries change colour). We had a few small rain events which kept the vines from getting thirsty but the damp, cloudy conditions brought some powdery mildew pressure (the French term Oidium is more fitting I think). Chardonnay is the most susceptible variety to powdery but our fruit all came in clean thankfully as more than 5% infected berries can taint the wine….

The up side to the cool conditions is later than normal picking dates which means more flavour! The acidity levels of the grapes declines less rapidly in cooler conditions so the natural acidity will give the wines great length. Because of this we are giving the Chardonnay the chance to go through a full malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity. This is a good example of changing winemaking methods to suit the vintage; I know of a winemaker who eschews any MLF in his Chardy but if he sticks to that this year they will need a long time to mellow!

The Pinot Noirs are all looking great but in a more refined style than the last couple of years and I’m really excited to see how they develop in the barrel.

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