Blue Poles Vineyard

April 2008

 

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When it’s over, it’s over…

 

It must be said that on 15 April 2008 at 9.30am, when all of our Cabernet Franc was safely in its bins and about to be sent to the winery – the growing season ended.  Just like that.  No fanfare, no drawn out mild evenings, just one rainy day after the other with cold winds buffeting the region just to make sure we knew that growing of grapes can stop now.  This vintage was one that will be considered excellent in the region as a whole, but everyone is now waiting on the wines to settle down in tank and barrels to check that the flavours seen in the vineyard have carried through into the resultant wine.  And the reason for this is simple, everyone picked much of their wines much later than they anticipated and the weather was not very kind in the first two weeks of April (barring two lovely days on the 13th and 14th which set up our Cabernet Franc to a tee), and this extension may have meant a loss of balance and structure for the later varieties.  We are of course very hopeful as we picked off the Shiraz in early April (2nd), and the Cabernet Franc in mid April (15th), with the fruit coming off clean but in reduced tonnages which means the intensity in the resulting wines will be striking.

 

 

Photo of Cabernet Franc autumn colors

 

It is an unusual feeling when all the grapes have been taken off and posted to our winemaker for her to do her magic.  Like an exam ending, or a ride at the show finishing, you sort of wander about a bit thinking that there was something that had to be done but you could not put your finger on it.  The collecting in of the nets and the cleaning up of picking bins and machinery are all “at your own pace” jobs, unlike the rush rush of chasing pickers up and down the rows, or scooting off for acid analyses and bin collection.  Once you realize that you don’t need to run around it is a very pleasant feeling and I recommend it highly!

 

There is no musings on a topic this month as I have been working away on some facts about Bordeaux and the use of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and rather than go off half cocked, I’ll give you a story and a half next month.

 

 

No Indians this summer...

 

Well as recorded above, as soon as the last fruit was picked on 15 April 2008, the weather in the Margret River region basically became a winter pattern with cold fronts and southerly winds stopping all further vine growth and provided enough rain to kick start the grass growing season for our neighbors.  The break in the season was so distinct it was almost as if someone had turned off the light switch!

 

The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:

 

April 2008:                    Avg Maximum Temp      21.3oC                (Daily Max recorded 28.9oC)

                                      Avg Minimum Temp      10.5oC                (Daily Min recorded   3.9oC)

 

                                      Rainfall:                         95.3mm

 

The 2008 maximum and minimum temperature averages were slightly lower than last year, but the differences are very small.  Rainfall is also very similar in both years, however in 2008 there were 18 rainy days against 10 rainy days in 2007, giving a much easier break in the season as much of the 2008 moisture has got into the soil structure and not run-off in heavier down pours.

 

April 2007:                    Avg Maximum Temp      21.9oC                (Daily Max recorded 27.3oC)

                                      Avg Minimum Temp       10.7oC                 (Daily Min recorded   3.2oC)

 

                                      Rainfall:                        102.4mm

 

The comparison with Sonoma Valley continues with the data from the month of October 2007 (northern hemisphere’s equivalent to April 2008), is presented below:

 

October 2007:               Avg Maximum Temp      22.1oC                (Daily Max recorded 31.1oC)

                                       Avg Minimum Temp       6.1oC                 (Daily Min recorded   0.6oC)

 

                                       Rainfall:                         80.7mm

 

Finally the maximum temperature range in Sonoma has reduced, and it did it dramatically with this month 5oC lower than in March.  Minimums are now quite low and most vines would be shutting down for winter seeing just how cold it is getting at night.  I have had a bit of fun with the comparison to Margaret River to Sonoma, but looking back at the range of climatic variables thrown at the vignerons of Sonoma in comparison to us, we are extremely different and our wines would therefore have significantly different flavour profiles for the same varietals.  I’m not sure where I’ll go next year (maybe the Rhône Valley), but where ever it is it should be intriguing.

 

 

Sip and Spit…

 

All the wines are pressed and in barrels so our first set of tasting of the 2008 vintage will be in May.  Also we will be looking at the quality of the 2007 vintage, completing the blending trials and possibly doing some reserve selections due to the impeccable quality of these wines.  The vineyard effectively has a month off as the roots suck up the last of the energy from the recessing canes and prepare for winter in its dormant state.  We will spread some lime for soil balance and look at feeding up some of the shiraz and teroldego vines, but other wise it will be quiet.  However, there is plenty to do around the house at the vineyard with lawns to seed and stone walls and gardens to build, so don’t think we have got it easy just yet!

 

All the best everyone.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

 

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