Thursday, 26 February 2015

What a Wine' Weed
27th February 2015
Vineyards - a world of weeds going wild. Such speed and delicate creativity in their grasp - cordon wires, neighbouring limbs and human heads. Vigorous, leafy, giving and - wild!
Edie @ Birdsey's Vineyard
     I commenced my days in the McLaren Vale Vines with Fiona Wood and David Swan mid-late last year. Out of curiosity more than interest at the time and the general requirement of something to supplement a part time wage. I traipsed between Angove Vineyard, Foreman's, Birdsey's and Tullah Estate from the stages of late Spring or the 'grand period of growth' until now -VINTAGE.
    Each varietal of vine generally shot out laterals and leaf as speedily as each other up until flowering. Re-visiting the same blocks of young 1-3 year old babies proved that their growth spurts are truly that. Centimetres of growth each day, stretching out for the sun to make us wine! How beautiful.
    Under Fiona's watchful eye, I learnt her art of training young vines into the fruitful two cordoned trunk. Her method, different to many is to encourage the vines with diligence and regular care at this early age, to facilitate their reaching the wire as soon as possible. Taking shape due to rapid, trained growth very early, also being beneficial for the root system strength for the following season after their dormancy.
    The fruit of the Carignan, Touriga, Grenache and Shiraz at Angove's began taking shape of their respective bunch character by November. By December the distinct cluster formation and length difference and speed of development very apparent. Grenache and Carignan turgid and tight alongside one another - full and round. Shiraz and Cabernet tend to 'hang' long and loosely in with their siblings, more flaccid than the alternate varieties, richer and even in their purple/ black hues.
Grenache @Angove Family Wines
    Heat let herself in when she pleased over the December, January and February months, with little warning but plenty of presence. The race to keep water to all the blocks during these emergency calls was awful to watch, as some grapes poached themselves or fried within a day, leaves turned to filo pastry and yield plummeted. However, the generally moderate 'Summer' conditions resulted in a healthy and balanced build of sugar and retention of acid.
Cabernet Sauvignon heat affected.
    Highlights of the few weeks leading to the pick of each variety was the delicious sampling of the odd grape. Detecting the influence the soil, facing of the vine, vineyard location, vine age and care resulted in wildly differing flavours between even the same varietal. After heat, the rapid sugar build becomes evident on the palate. Flabby flavour results in examples of commercial vines pointed out to me, where the vine isn't bunch thinned sufficiently and acid development has lapsed. Jammy and porty in extreme cases.
The vines are fruit bare once again. The juices of their bunches will keep them afloat for future seasons once macerated, oaked?, aged and bottled. This year and for the years ahead, I will proudly be able to sample some of this hard work, love & risk, from a glass. Having helped them along a little... Understanding the tirelessness of the teams and vines involved to create that perfumed drop. 
A vine may be a weed - but she is a needy and clever one at that.   

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