CRAYÈRES VINEYARD – WRATTONBULLY
Our unique closed-spaced Crayères vineyard in Wrattonbully has been through one of the warmest and driest growing seasons on record, producing some extraordinary fruit.
The 2016 growing season was the warmest and driest on record – from the start until the end. Ideal flowering conditions led to early fruit set. Dry soils created the perfect conditions for the establishment of a very balanced and open canopy, with no need for trimming after very efficient manual shoot thinning in early December. Véraison occurred even earlier than 2015 and finished quickly for all varieties. Because of the perfect fruit set, and high potential yields, all red varieties were bunch thinned at véraison to make sure the yields were kept to 6 tonnes per hectare.
The Crayères vineyard did not experience any severe heatwaves in 2015/16, apart from one day reaching 40 degrees in December. However, we believe the drought slowed down the ripening process after véraison and the fruit was picked at the same time as 2015 for all varieties.
For the first time we collected data from the weather station in the Crayères vineyard. It shows 1,791 degree days from October 2015 to April 2016, which is significantly higher than average. It was a difficult growing season, the vines struggled at the end of ripening to get through the drought and some vines had to be left out at picking. However, the fruit that was picked was superb for all varieties.
We handpicked our Sauvignon Blanc very ripe on the 25th, 26th and 27th of February 2016. The grapes were picked on flavor. For the Crayères vineyard cuvée, the fruit was whole bunch pressed, and fermented in demi-muids. For the Blanc cuvee, the fruit was also whole bunch pressed and fermented in one large 2,000L oak foudre in a temperature controlled cellar. For the Down to Earth cuvee, the fruit was crushed and destemmed, and then fermented in stainless steel at even lower temperatures and in a 3,000L oak foudre.
We handpicked our Shiraz on the 16th of March 2016. We had yields of 7.5 tonnes per hectare, after thinning one bunch out of 2 at véraison. The Shiraz was fermented in 1 Potter fermenter with boards keeping the cap submerged. After one full month of cold maceration, fermentation and post fermentation maceration, it has now been pressed off skins and transferred to new (41%), 6-month old (27%) and two-year old (32%) Vallaurine barrels (Rive Droite and Rive Gauche). It will be a unique Shiraz from our Wrattonbully vineyard.
The Cabernet Franc came off the day before the Cabernet Sauvignon, on the 22nd of March 2016. The yields were excellent at 7.5 tonnes per hectare. The Cabernet Franc was all fermented in small 1-tonne open plastic fermenters, with plunging once a day, pressed off skins after 23 days of cold maceration, fermentation and post fermentation maceration. It was racked to 47% new French oak barrels and the rest in 2-year old French oak barrels.
On the 23rd of March 2016 we handpicked our close-spaced Cabernet Sauvignon. With very low yields of 6 tonnes per hectare, the fruit was perfectly ripe at harvest, with amazing Cabernet Sauvignon cassis and ripe prunes flavours. The must was fermented in 1 Potter fermenter with boards to keep the cap submerged (cycled only once during vintage). Fermentation was very slow (less than 1 Bé per day) and the wine was pressed off skins after 35 days of maceration and fermentation and left to settle in a tank for 12 days before being racked to 63% new French oak barrels and the rest in 6-month old French oak barrels. It should be a superb world class Cabernet Sauvignon.
BIZOT VINEYARD AND SUMMERTOWN VINEYARD – PICCADILLY VALLEY
Our two vineyards in Piccadilly Valley produced excellent sparkling base Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fruit and also some unique table Pinot Noir in 2016.
The 2016 growing season in the Piccadilly Valley was much warmer than average at around 1,550 degree days compared to the 12 year average of 1,235 degree days. However, there were no extreme heat events during the ripening season and there was enough rain to keep the delicate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines from experiencing severe stress.
2016 was the first vintage of the Summertown vineyard under our care. Part of the Pinot Noir block was retrellised to convert from spur pruning to cane pruning. The vineyard was all hand pruned. The canopy grew moderately and needed a very light trimming. The sparkling base Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks did not require bunch thinning and were carefully hand harvested on the 29th of February 2016, with reasonable yields of 10 tonnes per hectare. The base wine is now finishing fermentation in tanks and will go into our first Pinot Chardonnay cuvee for Daosa.
The table Pinot Noir blocks were bunch thinned 3 times to get to very low yields of 3-4 tonnes per hectare. They were hand harvested on the 8th of March and on the 12th of March, they were fermented in 1-tonne fermenters, and are now ageing in French oak barrels (50% new, 50% old oak).
The Chardonnay for our Daosa Blanc de Blancs was hand harvested on the 1st of March 2016. The fruit displayed extraordinary flavours at harvest with good acidities, and the wine is now going through malolactic in old French oak demi-muids (600L). The Pinot Noir for our Daosa Blanc de Noirs was also hand harvested on the 1st of March, and is now ageing in old oak.
2016 was a very unique vintage. Our effort to control yields in all our vineyards made a significant difference in the quality of the fruit harvested. 2016 will be a great vintage for our three vineyards.