Four seasons ago we sectioned out a new block of the vineyard (9 rows). In 7 vintages we’ve gained a feel for the fruit and variations within the site. Our ‘short rows’ that grow higher on the hill have always given a greater consistency in the fruit and naturally showed lower vigour. We turned off the water (gradually at first) then began offering less and less over the years to switch this patch to minimal irrigation. Here we place some pressure on the vines, give them a little kick and say “now show me what you really can do”. We are chasing flavour and increased complexity in the wines.
Yields in the block are too low for machine harvesting and we wish to keep the bunches & berries whole for extended skin contact and partial whole bunch fermentation. 2019 gave us under 1 tonne to the acre – total harvest 1.2 tonnes. To put this in context, our other Shiraz is grown (pending seasonal variation) at yields around 3t/acre. We are liking what we see so far and we entrust none other than Jo Marsh & Glen James (2017 Best New Winery – James Halliday) to make this shiraz. Together we have developed our topline premium offering – Alquemie.
We are not only growing for intensity in the fruit but are chasing the ultimate balance between elegance and power. We schedule the harvest in consideration of ripeness and potential alcohol – it is a yearly challenge. The goal is a complete and balanced wine, showing Heathcote intensity, yet restrained enough to highlight fruit characters with grace and poise. This block, this wine, has become our magnum opus. I imagine we will spend our remaining vintages wondering if we created the winemaking conditions for these vines to show us what they ‘really can do’. We strive to give them every chance.
Sub-region Northern Heathcote
Fruit Shiraz (single vineyard) minimal irrigation, 0.933t/a
Winery notes 15% whole bunch, rest destemmed (not crushed) for whole berry ferment. Cold soak 5 Days. Fermented using indigenous yeasts. Extended time on skins, pressed and racked to seasoned French oak for maturation
Oak Seasoned French
Palate Red cherry, raspberry, graphite
Winemaker Jo Marsh, Glen James