Blue Poles Vineyard
From little things big things grow…
This is the month of bud burst with all the primary growth, first leaf separations and the start of flowering. The optimist always comes out when vines burst into life, and I am extremely pleased this year with the even budburst of the Marsanne and the Cabernet Franc – both varieties look extremely good and healthy. Apart from the dropping of some wires and some cleaning along the base of the vines it has been a quiet month, which lends itself to a busier month going forward.
Cabernet Franc getting started
2006 Merlot / Cabernet Franc
Our latest red wine has been bottled and locked away in a vault for some down time. We will not be opening the door on this wine for a further 6 months at least as it really does need some time to recover from the bottling process as well as to complete its “growing up” and meld into the great wine we tasted from the first ferments. I personally think this wine may potentially be the most long lived of all our wines due to its origins of the cool 2006 vintage as well as the exciting tannic/fruit/acid balance that again has moved our perception of what our site can produce to a level that makes us pleased. A tasting note just prior to bottling is as below:
“Colour is of dark plum, almost broody with an inkiness that stains the glass. Nose is lifted with high-end aromatics of violets, chocolate and cinnamon / all spice wisping across the top of satsuma plums, blackcurrants and freshly picked dark cherries. Palate is big and dense with the wine filling the mouth with the ripe ropey tannins and framing the fruit which is now a line from front to back. All in balance but making one think which component is more prominent than the other, this wine is a great testament to the care in the vineyard and the care in the winery – a result which can be enjoyed for years to come”
Having watched this wine from its difficult vintage and monstrous effort put in by all family members amongst the vines, to the individual pickings so late in the season that we crossed all our fingers and toes and were given the windows of weather to bring in these grapes in the best of condition and the peak of their flavours, through their ferments and down the line of selected oak to give us our barrel selections and wine trials and blending trials – it is a wine that will be opened over the decades with the greatest of pride. But right now the wine needs its sleep, and in 6-7 months time we will open the vault and crack the seal and share this wine with you all.
Rain, rain go away …
… come again another day. It has been the wettest September that has occurred since we have developed the vineyard and the wettest in Rosa Brook since the 1930’s when heavy storms bolstered the rainfall figures for a few years of that particular decade. There has only been 3 days all month in which there was no rainfall, and this is because we have been in a constant westerly airflow which brings cold fronts and showers from the Indian Ocean to our corner of Australia – this is unusual as some of the summer patterns do start to dominate by early spring but that has not been the case this year.
However the weather has been mild and this has meant the vines have slowly come to life and as things warm up will be jumping out of there buds next month with the higher ground water levels at the start of season than has not been the case for many years. The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:
September 2007: Avg Maximum Temp 17.4oC (Daily Max recorded 21.0oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 10.0oC (Daily Min recorded 4.9oC)
The 2007 maximum and the minimum temperatures were very similar to last years figures, only the odd hotter day and colder night in 2006 raised and lowered the maximum and minimum. Rainfall is a lot more in 2007 as discussed above, but the rainfall is expected to drop quite significantly in October as the summer weather patterns start to dominate the region again.
September 2006: Avg Maximum Temp 17.8oC (Daily Max recorded 24.5oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 9.6oC (Daily Min recorded 2.7oC)
As promised many moons ago (including a blue moon according to the charts), I am going to compare our growing vintage with another well regarded wine region in the world. Last season I compared our 2007 vintage to the 2006 vintage of Bordeaux, and this year I will be comparing our 2008 vintage to the 2007 vintage of Sonoma in California, USA. Sonoma Valley is a very fine vineyard region that lies 15km west of Napa Valley and to the north of the city of San Francisco. The region is located ~40km inland from the Pacific Ocean and is between 20-50m above sea level, which is reasonably close to some of the more inland vineyards of Margaret River (like us). Well known for Cabernet and Chardonnay, there are many varieties grown and areas such as Russian River have their Pinot converts and to the north of Healdsburg I noted some Rhone varietals as well.
I must admit to little knowledge of many American wines simply due to the fact that not many are imported into Australia, and that also many of the well known boutique wines from Sonoma are very expensive with many of the “reserve” Cabernet Sauvignons through the websites I visited exceeding US$100 / bottle from the mailing list. From the climate comparisons I am therefore very keen to learn a bit more and put this region in the spotlight. So for the month of March 2007 the figures from Healdsburg, Sonoma (as accessed from the UC Davis website) are as below:
March 2007: Avg Maximum Temp 22.6oC (Daily Max recorded 27.8oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 6.1oC (Daily Min recorded 0.6oC)
As you can see there is a world of difference in the start of spring in Sonoma and here in Margaret River. Already the temperatures are warm, but the minimums are significantly lower considering the day time temperatures, and have a look at that rainfall – next to naught. It is therefore apparent that even though Sonoma is quite near the coast, there is little or no maritime influence on the overnight temperatures that are seen here in Margaret River or what we saw in Bordeaux last vintage. So where as both Margaret River and Bordeaux have lower maximums and higher minimums, Sonoma uses a much wider spread but possibly may have the same amount of temperature totals above 10oC which is what the viticultural scientists tend to use as their base line for vine growth. There is also the factor of the famous San Francisco fogs that fill the valleys behind this great city and this feature of nature may depress temperatures in these valleys – also there are significant hills surrounding the valley (Sonoma Mountain 740m asl, Hicks Mountain 500m asl) and I would assume they could funnel cold air down the valleys as well.. This could be an interesting comparison and definitely not what I expected.
With the winter blues receding into the distance it is time to get some of the spring jobs on the go. Some liming and fertilizing of sections of the vineyard will be a priority as will be some small touch up sprays to keep the ground clear around our vines. The roses are looking a bit bedraggled so they will need a good tidy up and if the vineyard is dry enough we will get the mulcher in and clean up all the prunings left mid row. It is quite a busy time as we set up for the vintage, but with the days getting longer and the weather warming it is great to be out amongst the vines.
All the best everyone.
Blue Poles Vineyard