Blue Poles Vineyard
Amongst the barrels …
May is wine tasting blending month from the previous vintage – in this case 2011. Last year we made a shed load of red wine with all our varieties picked, fermented and placed into barrel. It was an excellent vintage and provided us with a real feeling of something special was on the cards. Well post vintage in 2011 I did not really do a lot of tasting of the wines as I know it all is a bit misleading as they finish their malolactic fermentation and then settle into the oak we have laid on. So after 13 months in oak it is time to have the check-up, complete the blends for the Allouran, define the Reserves and put together the Shiraz and the Teroldego to see if the whole is as good as the barrel parts.
So on 24 May on a coldish morning I wandered on into the barrel hall to get confirmation of either a great outcome, or one that leaves a bit to be desired. So I will go through the parcels and how they came together.
A cool frosty May morning
Merlot 1st Pick and 2nd Pick: We picked our merlot in two tranches over 4 days in 2011, with the first pick being on the lower slopes, and the second on the upper slopes – this is the first time we have done this and it made for a busy few days. So the results were always going to be interesting.
The first thing that strikes you about the wines in all barrels is the consistent fruit flavor across them all, some were more forward and some more backward, but all had a delicious red fruits profile that provided great flavor through the palate. Of the new oak barrels I think I am in love with one of the cooper’s barrels – the wines that came from those barrels went straight into the Reserve without a second of thought, just sensational aromatics and length to match in with the Blue Poles house style. One or two of the other new oak producers (we are continually testing new oak), provided a more broad flavor and those barrels were destined for the Allouran blend where the Cabernet Franc provides the high notes and the Merlot provides the base notes.
Overall the number of barrels that met the Reserve grade were as many as I have ever put into this bottling – and I have never been as confident in this selection as I have been for this 2011 wine. It is going to be very exciting, and the thought of having this and the 2010 still awaiting release makes me certain that all those Merlot doubters will just have to hold on for a few more years before continuing the drone.
Cabernet Franc: Before you start – if I could bottle a Reserve Cab Franc I would, but while it forms such an integral part of the Allouran and while we crop it at such low tonnage rates to squeeze every ounce of flavor from it – I can’t. This year the intensity of the wines was just brilliant, so much blackcurrant and rich plum backed in by some super oak has meant this wine just brings the Allouran up to another plane. I often go on about a “spicy” aroma with the Cab Franc – notes of all spice or cinnamon are often jotted down – well this year it is the deepest and most resonant spicy note that I have ever tasted from the vines and it controls the aromatics of the final Allouran blend just sensationally.
Which leads to the Allouran blend. The final numbers came out at 27% Cab Franc and 73% Merlot with no barrels taken out of the blend (this is the first time in a while – usually one or two are questionable and we take the conservative path). Whereas the 2010 wine was quite feminine, this 2011 wine is very masculine but perhaps the richest it has been since the 2007. Tannins are as fine grained as ever and the flavor is seamless across the palate so I am very happy how it has pulled together – almost like magic at times.
Shiraz: This is a wine that has received a bit of love in the past, and I am really happy to be able to get another one through to bottle. The barrels of this wine were a real pick me up as they are so lithe and quick on their feet – with rich raspberry as the dominant flavor and lovely spices off the variety of oaks used it was like having a lineup of southern Rhone wines, and all the pleasure that entails. Very very happy as it is a step up on the last vintage of this variety, and to ensure the quality was kept I did take a couple of barrels out that weren’t quite up to standard.
Teroldego: I have been fortunate enough to drink some great wines in my time, and to be able to try these barrels knowing their history and the effort taken to make the wine – wow, it was a comparable experience. The first barrel tried was a new Vicard and the wine that came from that just simply sang – exceptional. All the barrels were excellent, and the resultant blend, simply brilliant. The wine is not fat or jammy in any way, but the fruit is intense and rich – it is not coarse and hard with tannins, but the mouth structure is rich with the finest of tannins that are as smooth as you could hope for. I am stoked – it is a good a wine as I could dare to hope for and it is now blended and awaiting bottling in July.
I am very pleased. All the work of the previous vintage has come to a point in which we can have the utmost confidence in both the quality of the wines, but also the site in which we have planted our vines. It may seem strange to say that we now have confidence in our wines and site, but as with all ventures you have to be realistic and ask the questions of yourself and your direction and through good luck and good planning we appear to have made some solid choices all those years ago.
I will not be writing up a discussion topic this month as I am currently sitting in the dark with the power to our estate been off for 28 hours now, and no time line on when we will be up and running. I will throw in some photos for the June report – and hopefully this will be as bad as it gets as further bad weather is forecast for later in the week. Apologies, but all hopefully will be back to normal next month.
Weather appears ...
For such a changeable month, May has the most consistent temperatures, maximum always about 20oC and minimums about 9oC – with rainfall always the mystery as it is anything between a few mm, and a few hundred mm. This month conformed pretty well to the averages, though we did have that cool snap photographed above – but that was only for a couple of days before all returned to normal once more.
The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:
May 2012: Avg Maximum Temp 20.0oC (Daily Max recorded 25.4oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 8.8oC (Daily Min recorded 0.6oC)
The maximum and minimum temperature ranges are near identical to last year. Rainfall last year was a little above the average for May, but this year the rainfall was nearly spot on the average of 82mm.
May 2011: Avg Maximum Temp 19.9oC (Daily Max recorded 25.4oC)
Avg Minimum Temp 8.8oC (Daily Min recorded 4.5oC)
Pruning starts, I hope …
This is when the secateurs are oiled up and given a bit of a sharpen with the loppers, and off I go. But this may not quite be as straight forward as that as travel abroad beckons with a week in New Zealand visiting family, before heading back to Africa later in the month for a trip around the bauxite plateaus of Guinea. So much to do with so little time – hardly time to write this report!!
As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or www.twitter.com/bluepoles and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.
Blue Poles Vineyard