The day had finally arrived. Vintage had started but this time it was our turn, our grapes, and our first white!
It was the 29th of December. Another clear, crisp morning. Not many people realise that at 5am in the South Burnett ,even in December, temperatures can be as low as 9C which is what makes this little slice of paradise so great for growing grapes. Although we are in what is classified as a warm climate the days rarely stray too far over 30C and the night time temperatures are low enough to allow the vines a little resting time before the sun stirs up their ripening instincts again each morning.
The grapes were in the winery by 6am, and despite not having our tipping bins sorted yet, we still managed to bucket the entire 1.3T into the crusher and had it sent through to the press by 7am.
We were experimenting a little with this pick bringing the Viognier in at a lean 12.0 Baume (which means with enough sugar to get to around 12% alcohol after ferment), but our aim was not to produce a wine that was overly tropical, or overly apricot, which can be typical descriptors of very ripe Viognier, and can end up a little cloying on the palate. The wines we like are more steely and lean with fresh citrus notes and just a hint of tropical fruits to fill out the palate. You could say we are aiming for a more serious wine (without getting too pretentious about it), although Viognier...she can be a fickle beast and there is a very limited picking window so all our fingers and toes were crossed that we had timed it right.
The juice was bright and vibrant, pale lemon yellow in colour with an aroma of lemons, grapefruit and pears. I thought that perhaps we might just have called it right but I knew there was a long way until it would be finished and only then would we truly know.
Fast forward to early January and as the ferment ticked along slowly at around 13-15C to help preserve the fresher fruit flavours , a lovely creamy texture was beginning to develop along with some stone fruit characters like nectarines and white peaches. It gave us an idea that this is a wine that could use a little extra time up close to the yeast to help accentuate this feature. So, instead of letting the yeast settle straight to the bottom of the tank when the ferment finished we stirred them up every couple of days keeping them in suspension in the wine just that little bit longer, a technique the French call 'battonage'.
I cant say for sure if we have made all the right calls along the way but I am pretty happy with the wine we have ended up with. It has just gone to bottle and once it has had a little time to settle into it new home we will be releasing it to the world.
I cant wait to hear what you think, after all, it is you guys who get to tell me if you think our little experiment has paid off or not!