Vintage 2010 – New year, new challenges

Friday, April 23, 2010

As vintage 2010 draws to a close, and the last few bins of grapes rumble past Cellar Door to the winery we thought it would be good to give a brief overview of how we have fared to this point. Part of the beauty of winemaking is that every year you are dealt a new hand, and have a unique set of climatic conditions to work with. In recent years drought and temperature spikes have proven a challenge, but the viticultural and winemaking teams have been up to the task, and we have made some excellent wines. This year was also punctuated by some unusual weather events. It all started back in November, three months before we even considered picking a grape. The whole of Victoria had an unusual spike in temperature, with consecutive days up over 40 degrees. Our vines had just finished flowering at this time, and the resultant heat damage to the delicate early growth reduced yields by 10-15%.

Once we were over that speed bump it was relatively smooth sailing through to vintage, with settled weather and a slightly cooler than average December and January. The first whites were harvested in excellent condition in mid February with Riesling and Chardonnay the early standouts, and over the next two weeks we had all of our white wines safely into the winery. As February ticked over into March and we looked ahead to the red harvest a few storm clouds were gathering in the distance. On March 5th it started to rain and basically didn’t stop for two days. We received almost 100ml of rain in this time which is nearly three times our average for March. Timing is everything so they say, and it would prove the case for us in this instance. As the rain came tumbling down all of our white wines were fermenting away in the winery, and being a couple of weeks away from our red harvest the red grapes were still hardy enough to cope with a solid shower. A bit later in the season and splitting would have been a huge issue, but as it turns out we escaped relatively unscathed.

What followed was a typical Rutherglen Autumn. Six weeks (and counting!) of glorious mild to warm weather, with low humidity, still days and cool nights. The red grapes were left to ripen slowly, developing great depth of flavour along the way and the Muscat and Tokay (Muscadelle) grapes got plenty of ‘hang time’ resulting in some incredibly high baume fruit. A small batch of Pedro Ximenez (that we will fortify) came in at an astonishing 30 baume. Malc can’t recall a higher reading in his 45+ years tending Campbells vineyards.

We try to avoid ‘hyping’ and making unnecessary comparisons between vintages as each year is different and has its own special story to tell, but it looks as though we have some memorable wines to look forward to from vintage 2010.

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