Friday, 30 March 2012

Stefano Lubiana 2012 Part 6

Stefano Lubiana 2012 Part 6

Diary note for March 30th, 2012

A day of firsts and lasts. The last day of processing 2012 Pinot Noir from our 25ha Granton Vineyard, and the first chance we’ve had to really stop and carefully assess our likely wine production from this year’s vintage.

The news is not all good. After three weeks of harvesting at Stefano Lubiana Wines, we now have resting safe and sound in our winery the lowest volume of Pinot Noir juice we have had to work with since 2003.

The quality is excellent. But there’s just not enough of it.

According to our best current estimates, we are likely to see a shortfall of close to 40 percent in the total number of Pinot Noir table wines we will be able supply our customers from the 2012 vintage.

The most adversely affected product in our portfolio is likely to be our popular Primavera Pinot Noir.

Our vineyard harvests to date have been quite outstanding at times, and with reduced yields now being the order of the day we’re looking closely at how we can maximise our wine quality. It’s too early to predict whether we will be able to produce something for our acclaimed Sasso Pinot Noir label, but we are nevertheless hoping to be able to craft some pretty special 2012 wines for release in coming years. The odds at the moment are slightly in favour of us having a little more Estate Pinot Noir than usual, and a lot less Primavera.

Of course, you can never count your chickens before they’re hatched. We’ll just had to bide our time and see how our new wines look as they progress from grape to glass.

While on the subject of chickens, it seems everyone we know with a vineyard in southern Tasmania has experienced a substantial fall in Pinot Noir production this year. While our colleagues in the north of the State have had yields close to the industry’s long-term average for the variety, those in the south have seen plenty of ‘hen and chicken’ as previously explained in this diary, smaller bunch sizes, and generally lower than average bunch numbers.

Certainly, there is no surplus fruit available anywhere in the State. The small number of growers that produced wine grapes for the spot market has been deluged with enquiries. What little Pinot Noir was available from this year was soon snapped up. We know because we tried to purchase a little earlier in the season when we realised we were headed for a significant shortfall in production.

So there it is in print, a preliminary report on our 20th vintage of Pinot Noir at Stefano Lubiana Wines. It’s surely going to be a memorable one.

Elsewhere in our business, the prospects for vintage continue to be very favourable in spite of our reduced yields. We’ve had a very good spell of fine weather in recent times, and with a little more luck our hardworking vineyard team will forge on with their harvesting tasks later in the coming week.

At the moment, it looks like we will be picking Sauvignon Blanc very shortly, maybe even next Wednesday or Thursday. Our vines continue to look very happy and healthy, thanks to the great work that’s been done through the season by Mark, James and Jamie.

We never cease to be amazed by the improvements we’re seeing in our viticulture, thanks to the ongoing program of biodynamic management we’ve had operating on the property since 2008.

Historically, we’ve been used seeing our leaves shut down at this time of the year, but as March closes and April beckons, we appear to have plenty of photosynthesis still going on among the varieties that remain to be picked on the property: our aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc, along with our Riesling, Merlot and Nebbiolo.

Fingers crossed that the sun will continue to play its key role in getting our vintage across the line within the next couple of weeks. A harvest-free Easter would be very welcome.

Our 2012 vintage team looks forward to a weekend off

After spending last Sunday touring and tasting their way through the nearby Coal River Valley, our team of international winemakers – Tyler Eck (from California in the US), Gavin Robertson (from Ontario, Canada) and Daniel Schmitt (from the Rheinhessen in Germany) is looking forward to getting out and about again this weekend.

All have been impressed by the quality of the Tasmanian Rieslings they have tasted during their brief stay in the State. We get the feeling that has come as something of a surprise. The State’s success with Pinot Noir was already known to them when they arrived, and what’s been seen so far – whether it be berry or bottle – has only added to the positive regard these young winemakers have for the variety in Tasmania.

We may only account for less than half a percent of Australia’s total wine grape crush, but this State’s industry surely has a lot going for it at the moment, even if we are short of a few thousand tonnes in 2012.

PS We’ve continued posting photos of vintage 2012 on our Flickr pages. You’ll find them here:

Mark Smith

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Centenary 1991

Wynns Coonawarra Estate has access to some of the best vineyards in the area so when they release a special blend you should be in for a lovely surprise.  Rumours are that this wine is a blend of 2/3rd Michael and 1/3 John Riddoch but that is where it gets messy as the stated alcohol is 12.5% for this wine and 13.5% for the 2 flagships wines from the same year.  How can this be that there is a difference? Well, I can see that different parcels can come in at different baumes. Just a few weeks ago I picked two batches of Sagrantino on the same day and the beautiful batch came in at 14.2 baume while the not so beautiful batch came in at 15 baume.  For this reason I am of the opinion that this wine is the best parcels from the Michael and John Riddoch wines blended together.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Centenary 1991

This is the best Australian wine I have ever had! One of the most interesting things about this wine is that it tastes like it is Cabernet dominant as I get pipe tobacco, cow hide, gunpowder, savoury blackcurrant leaf rolled in brambles, orange rind and spicy mint. The flavours are mesmerising as they linger like they are frozen in time or suspended in animation.  Each little element dances to the beat of its own drum but adds to the whole experience. Next comes the structure... it is silky and seductive yet apparent and appealing. In fact the whole wine experience is beautiful to behold.  Think of the first moment you spent with your partner watching the sun come up with a glass of bubbles in your hand and a blanket wrapped around you bringing you both closer together and that is what this wine makes me feel like.  Pure joy!

Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: Who cares
Rated: 97
Drink: Now but will continue to age gracefully for another 10 years if cellared well.

Penfolds Bin 23 2011

Penfolds get to play with a lot of wonderful varieties and then release them under the cellar reserve label.  This wine is an off shoot from that experiment.

Penfolds Bin 23 2011

Pinot Noir would have to be one of the most difficult varieties to make well as it needs a lot of love and attention.   Does that mean that the large players struggle with making good pinot? Well it shouldn't as they have a lot more hands on deck to take care of such things yet I am not sure what happened with this wine.  It starts out with a little beetroot and rhubarb before cow poo joins the team and it all finishes with a hint of spice.  Ok so the flavours are not bad but the palate is the one thing that lets the team down.  The palate is very light and almost non-existent while the tannins and flavours are separated from each other.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: $40
Rated: 84
Drink: Now

Chaffey Bros. wine co. presents The Killer Pinot Grigio 2011

This is made by a group of Australians in Italia so it is pure Grigio straight up.  The winery was started in 2006 by Daniel Chaffey and has successfully grown since then. 

Chaffey Bros. wine co. presents The Killer Pinot Grigio 2011

This is that sort of wine that is light but still retains a personality that is easy to like.  This would be so easy to down on a hot summers day with a light meal and a bunch of friends.  What the wine brings to the table is a easy floral aroma with pears, lemon balm and spicy crushed violets.  On the palate it is exactly the same but doesn't have the length for top point.  That said at 10 bucks this is good value and enjoyable. 

Alcohol: 12%
Price: $10
Rated: 83
Drink: Now - 2014