A collaboration with one of my absolute favorite winemakers! California-native Sierra Reed and I collided just as the 2018 harvest finished. We were fast friends and, more importantly, drinking buddies. Sierra is also a small negociant in Australia (though much bigger than Micro WInes), and with her impressive wine-making experiences in Beaujolais, Barolo, Rheingau and California, she works with fruit from around Victoria and the Barossa. We were offered some Pinot Gris from the Sangue de Terre vineyard in the Balnarring area of the Peninsula. We were one of the last to pick our Gris, and are working on making something quite textural and weighty. She is influenced by her time in Germany, and I am constantly waxing on about the Grand Cru Pinot Gris of Alsace. We should land somewhere in the middle. Check out Sierra's website, and look for her wines across the US and Australia!
Back at it! 2019 for most of Australia was about extremes. Some saw record high temperatures, others record low precipitation. This year came down to timing. In Victoria there was a late heat wave just as harvest began, and for grapes like Pinot Noir the optimal ripeness window was open for about 6 hours. For the later ripening Shiraz, the heatwave didn't have much of an effect on the fruit besides moving up pick-dates a touch. 2019 in Victoria looks like it will be the year of Shiraz.
The grapes came off about half a baume higher in ripeness than in 2018, so 13% potential alcohol rather than the 12.6%. Skins were a bit thicker this year and more savory than last year, so I reduced the amount of whole cluster to about 15% while pushing the carbonic-maceration phase to 9 days. Overall, this year I worked the ferment a bit more. This included more frequent drain and returns with foot stomping occurring at each point, more pump overs and a ferment that got slightly warmer than last year allowing it to build really complex aromas. The wine was pressed and racked into the same 1200L barrel that the 2018 rested in, though this year I may opt to let it sit a bit longer.
While the 2018 is fruitfully charming with heady spice notes, this will be a bit more of a regal wine. I expect it to have a more concentrated core of tannin that will provide an ample platform for maturation though still let that Aussie sun shine through.
2019 was particularly difficult in the Barossa. A very dry winter, and an even drier spring mixed with early summer hail resulted in some of the lowest yields ever. The average loss was about 40%. This was then met with one of the hottest summers on record. This was the year where old-vine material showed how special it was.
In Vine Vale, the sandy soils sit atop red clay. Gnarly old vines dig deep through the ground in search of water while their canes sprawl across the ground in an almost self-layering manner. The Barossa Valley vineyard is one of the most remarkable sights.
As yields were down, it only made sense that the new kid on the block miss out on the Grenache fun. However, Micro Wines' mate Sierra Reed knew of some Cinsault available from the vineyard she sources her Grenache from.
I was very lucky to get about 650 kilo which will yield about 600 bottles; Cinsault is a pretty high-yielding grape. More importantly, this wine is looking absolutely perfect. It is bright, crunchy, cheerful, and full of zest. It's the kind of wine you can dance to; I cannot wait to get it into bottle, into a glass, and into your mouth!
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