Widely regarded as a remarkable vintage, 2016 followed exceptional winter rainfall ensuring a fine start to the growing season. Hot December weather was tempered by a cooler new year, which also benefited from some mid-summer showers. Relatively cool nights in February helped retain good levels of natural acidity, delivering fruit of superior quality to the winery.
In the vineyard
Planted by Brian Croser AO (for Petaluma) about 20 years ago, the vineyard comprises several clones from the Tahbilk and Wendouree selections, as well as 1654. Whilst the various clones are planted separately, I selected fruit from multiple clones, all hand-picked on the same day and subsequently fermented together as one parcel. This practice, I believe, adds complexity, rather than harvesting each clone separately at so-called “optimal maturity” and then blending later. Furthermore, the slight variation in maturities (from the different clones) provides a more natural balance of acidity, flavour and potential alcohol.
In the winery
Approximately 20% of the fruit was placed in the bottom of an open fermenter and the rest was destemmed (but not crushed) on top. Fermentation proceeded using indigenous yeasts and lasted several weeks. Total maceration time on skins was 7 weeks. Counter-intuitively, the long maceration leads to softer tannins and a more textural palate structure. Once pressed, the wine was matured in French oak hogsheads (25% new) for 14 months. This wine has not been fined or filtered and therefore may form a deposit in the bottle after a few years.
I’ve seen so many wines paired with rare and exotic ingredients that it simply makes me cringe. I don’t believe there’s a specific recipe or ingredient that’s a perfect match, or if there is, it’s probably only applicable to the person writing it. I find that wine styles I enjoy tend to go well with the foods that I enjoy and vice versa. I suspect it’s a combination of personal preferences for textures, acidity, flavours etc. With seafood, this wine goes well with seared tuna or poached salmon. With poultry, try duck or turkey. Red meats – try veal. It also goes well with pork. And dare I say it, but I’ve had it with a nice home made hamburger!