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 high levels of natural acidity, delivering fruit of wonderful quality to the winery.
In the vineyard
Made from low yielding, 40+ year old vines on a friend’s vineyard in Leasingham, nestled midway between Watervale and Auburn. Two days before harvest, I walked through the vineyard and removed berries that had been damaged by birds or sunburn. The remaining fruit was then hand-picked early in the morning, before the ambient temperature warmed up too much.
In the winery
Only free-fun juice was used, handled oxidatively and split into two parcels. The first was fermented at around 12°C in stainless steel, to retain the fresh lime and citrus blossom aromas and flavours. The second parcel was fermented with indigenous yeasts in old French oak barriques, without any refrigeration – a technique that I first learnt about in Austria. Even at temperatures of 25°C, the wild yeasts fermented at a steady 0.3 Baume per day. This slow, steady ferment in old ok contributes texture and weight across the mid palate, without the oaky flavour of new barrels. In the final stages of fermentation, the wine was taken out of barrels and chilled rapidly to retain a small amount of natural residual sugar. The two parcels were then blended and returned to barrels for a few more weeks, on light lees, to allow the flavours to integrate.
Although this wine is drinking nicely now, it will continue to evolve for at least 10 years if cellared well.
While working in India, I noticed that people always squeeze lime juice over spicy food; it helps to cleanse the palate and moderate the spice. The generosity of lime juice flavours, a touch of sweetness and the zesty natural acidity of this wine perfectly complement the robust, spicy flavours of mild Indian curries and South East Asian dishes.