Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Media Muddle - Is it the Best or Worst Vintage?

2011 McLaren Vale Vintage Report

One of my personal pet hates is the constant drone of winery publicity relations proclaiming it to be the best vintage ever. This season we have had also had of chorus of media proclamations stating it is the worst vintage ever.

Rain clears in Willunga, South half of McLaren Vale Wine Region.
I am only 31 years old and have a 12 year career in the industry. If I believed the scribes I have worked through 10 of the best vintages in the history of space and time... plus five of the worst.*

Last week I have heard reports of wine industry commentators suggesting the 2011 vintage was a ‘write off’. While it has been an extremely challenging year in McLaren Vale with rain and disease pressures, I have seen many good vineyards and some very good wine. 

Philip White from Drinkster dug up some perspective. The summer of 2010-11 was, in fact, the second wettest on record for Australia.

"Nationally we averaged 354.7mm, 70 per cent above normal and second only behind the infamous summer of 1973-74 when 419.8mm was recorded," said Tom Saunders, meteorologist at The Weather Channel.

Downy Mildew affects grape yields by 'burning off bunches.
“Victoria’s had its wettest summer on record,” he continued. “Western Australia recorded its second wettest summer. South Australia recorded its third wettest summer. New South Wales recorded its fifth wettest summer. Queensland recorded its sixth wettest summer. Northern Territory recorded its eighth wettest summer, and Tasmania recorded its seventeenth wettest summer."

Closer to home in McLaren Vale the trend of wet weather continued but it is not all doom and gloom. The areas south of McLaren Vale, through Willunga and down to Sellicks faired quite well. These areas are notoriously windy and this air movement naturally assists in preventing disease. 

For most of the season the extra rainfall during summer helped keep vines healthy and most growers were able to keep on top of the summer diseases Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew. Unfortunately as the time for picking grew near in March we had 80mm of rain at the wrong time.

For growers in the areas south of McLaren Vale, they were able to quickly pick their fruit before Botrytis Bunch Rot set in.

The other end of the scale was Blewitt Springs. Fruit in this region was not ripe and couldn’t be picked immediately. Here the terrain is undulating, with hollows that trap moist air. Blewitt Springs and wet other pockets in McLaren Vale experienced persistent misty rain without sunshine for about four days that resulted in botrytis infections that grew exponentially. There fruit was not ready to immediately harvest. The fruit had to hang, exposing it to damage.

Jock Harvey from Chalk Hill Wines puts it into perceptive, "This was not due in anyway to incompetence, negligence or a lack of commitment," he says. "It was devastating for individual growers and for the wineries who intended to take the fruit."

While it has definitely been a difficult year for many, with varying degrees of quality, there will be outstanding and exciting wines produces from the 2011 vintage. Don't listen to the spin from PR companies.

If you want a reply say the McLaren Vale vintage is the best, worst vintage you are ever likely to see… it all depends on where your vines were and if you were lucky or unlucky with the summer rain.

*Spoiler Alert. If you ask me to list the vintages in order I have done so below from both a winery perspective and a grapegrowers.

Grape Growers & Winemakers

Good years 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010. In 2007 a severe drought made good intense wine but saw most grape growers have the lowest tonnages since 1982. I rate 2007 very highly for wine quality but it was very damaging to the local economy.
Grape harvest continues after  the vines leaves have turned yellow from Downy Mildew infection.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Retro - History of McLaren Vale - Part 3

You can write words, or you can take pictures. Welcome to our project of finding old photographs of McLaren Vale and surrounds and retaking them to show how everything looks today. We hope you enjoy!

Taranga as a ruin in the 1990's.
The Olivers Taranga site has been heavily re-vegetated as these photos show. The road has been built up higher forming a large embankment.

McLaren Vale Fruit packers building in 1980. Note the Caltex service station in the far right.
Fruit packers gets a makeover in 1981.
Fruit Packer Building is very similar accept for changes to the windows at the front. Cars have changed and both the trees in the foreground and the petrol station in the background have grown. If you look closely the building has 'strunk'. Part of it has been removed to make the petrol station bigger.

Aerial view of Main South Road Morphett Vale, showing the Emu Hotel centre, left of road, in the early 1950s.
Esplanade Aldinga Beach c.1979.
1970, the original Christian Bible Church chapel seen here at Sea View Chapel Hill. Gladys Stillwell & Peg Dunstan pictured.
Chapel Hill as a modern winery.
With thanks to Andrew Tuck for the pictures from the 1970's and 80's as well as some archive pictures from the State Library of South Australia.

You can view more of our work on Lazy's Facebook page.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9th, 2011 - Congratulations Rose and Norman Hook - 70th Anniversary.

Norman and Rose Hook celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary with a party at the Lazy Ballerina Cellar Door. Norman and Rose are Paul's parents and James' grandparents.

Rose, 89 years old and Norman, 90 also this month were married in March 1941.

They have a great, great grandchild in the UK, which means five generations of the family are alive at once.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3rd, 2011 - Rick Bakas visits McLaren Vale.

Rick Bakas is a thought leader in the world of wine and social media - on twitter alone Rick has over 50,000 followers which makes him one of the most influencial social media proponents. Rick was invited to visit McLaren Vale and catch up with leading, local wine social media users. Louise and Joch from Battle of Bosworth joined Janet from Mollydooker and myself for a tasting and conversation with Rick. To make the tasting more pleasant Adam Tripp-Smith hosted Rick at the Salopian Inn and served up a two course meal.

Jeff Wright from the McLaren Vale Beer Company and Luke Tyler from d'Arenberg also tasted through the line up.


Battle of Bosworth's newly released 'Spring Seed Co - Sav Blanc' was served with entree. Over mains we tasted 2007 Lazy Ballerina - Tatachilla Single vineyard Shiraz, 2008 Mollydooker Velvet Glove, 2008 Battle of Bosworth 'White Boar' Shiraz and 2008 Hugh Hamilton Saperavi.

For the rest of 2011, Rick will be traveling the world educating businesses on how to build their brands online. He will be visiting NYC, London, Mexico, Sydney, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Vancouver, Adelaide, Munich, Napa and Perth!

We wish him well on his trip.

April 2nd, 2011 - Vintage Pictures 2-0-1-1

The beauty of the Kuitpo region of the Adelaide Hills shines in Autumn... Unfortunately while the weather is sunny when this photo series was taken, many other days see the vineyards smothered in cloud.


April 4th, 2011 - Vinteloper Wines makes Best of the Best 2011.

Congratulations to Vinteloper Wines for making Mike Bennie's Best of the Best List in the April issue of Gourmet Traveller Wine.

Mike says,

"Sourcing regionally works well for winemaker Dave Bowley. Picking and choosing from a variety of vineyard sites has honed his portfolio into a sharp hit list of regional specialties from South Australia, but with an individual flair thanks to his more relaxed approach to winemaking. Bowley’s sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot gris are orderly, fresh wines with plenty of enjoyment factor. Where it gets real is with his remarkable 2010 Odeon Riesling, Clare Valley (labelled ‘Natural’ this vintage), which eschews normalcy for riesling produced in Australia and tows an unfettered, unadorned line. Textured, alive and brittle with electric personality, Odeon is brilliant white wine. The 2008 McLaren Vale shiraz has plenty of pluck too, and finds a very even keel balancing fruit verity and finesse."


The full best of list is shown on GTW website.

April 4th, 2011 - Lazy Ballerina Website Goes Live

Today, the new Lazy Ballerina website goes live. Big thanks to Glen Laundy at Tekspec Design for updating our old site to WEB 2.0.

If you are interested in updating your own site contact Glen at glen@tekspec.com.au