I love the annual rhythm of growing grapes and making wine. For us vignerons it’s all about the weather and thus every vintage and every wine is completely different.
There is no better illustration than the contrast of this season and the last.
This time last year we were enjoying one of our best winter and springs. It was wet and this is one of the few times of the season when that’s good. Spring is a time when vine growth explodes and a platform is built - new leaf growth and flowering begin the growth of berries that, come summer, will be ripened by the leaf. But this year we have endured a very dry and frosty winter.
By Spring the vines had no moisture to feed hungry roots and carbohydrate reserves were depleted by the severe frosts. Luckily we have a good water supply, and boy, have we used it. It’s never quite the same as soaking rain but it will suffice until Mother Nature rescues us.
During summer ripening, the climate dictates the complex metabolism of flavours, acids, tannins, even colours, mostly by influencing the amount and type of leaf and reserves with the vine structure. The ambient temperatures are also important for this metabolism and not just during the day.
Ripening is a busy and complex time for the vine so night is a critical period for the vine to catch up with daytime operations, much the same as a supermarket might restock at night in readiness for the demand surge of daytime. Mudgee’s cool nights are part of our secret to success.
I love the way that a season starts in winter with pruning and ends a year later when the wine is either in barrel or bottle. In between there is hope, opportunity, hard work and drama. Every one of these vintage journeys is unique and while much of the enjoyment is in the ebb and flow, at the end there is a vinous recording that is quite personal.
Every vintage I have a bet with a mate to see who can make a public declaration that this one will be vintage of the century.It’s a ritual begun by the winemakers of the Hunter Valley decades ago. Their wet and warm climate means every other vintage is, invariably, pretty ordinary. Getting in front of [...]
My dad dragged out a bottle of ‘86 Grange for Christmas lunch. It was great, always is.Between arguments over Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson (my Dad won, it was his Grange after all), we got to talking about this unique wine which over the past decade has evolved to be one of Australia’s biggest commodi [...]
In a word, wet. Another word, bloody. Bloody wet sums it up nicely actually.The vines are as happy as pigs in muck, the Vineyard team not so much...With over 50 times more winter rain than last year so far, and more days of rain than not, pruning was an absolute nightmare to finish. There is [...]
Happy vines make happy wine. And happy wines make a happy winemaker.So it was with the 2016 Vintage just finished.In one of my recent Ravings I may have given the wrong impression that I wasn’t happy when I moaned about all of the hurdles in front of us poor vignerons; from droughts to floods, frosts to heatwaves. [...]
Vignerons do not have a natural inclination towards optimism, and I’ll tell you why.It starts in winter each when pruners brave freezing cold and bitter winds to prune the dormant vines. It takes many months and is always a race to beat Spring’s wake-up call for the sleeping vineThen comes budburst, when the vine starts [...]
You would all be well aware by now that Huntington Estate does not follow fashions nor does it chase fads. For instance we warned against Justin Bieber then said the same about One Direction, we said it would end in tears. I said the same about The Beatles. Haha, told you so. It all started back [...]
Alcohol abuse is a scourge. It destroys lives and comes at a huge economic and social cost. Taxation is a good way to discourage abuse, just like with cigarettes right? Well not with the current system.While I’m sure there are a couple of billionaires rotting their livers with three bottles of Grange a day, and [...]
Dear Aunt Wine Agony,I have a particular grievance that may be ruining my life. It prevents me from enjoying dinner parties and I am even afraid to invite friends around for drinks anymore. I am a social outcast, desolated by blandness.In short, the wines I see lately in bottle shops are overpriced, overhyped and just plain boring. The Wine World seems [...]
Tannin is a strange beast, it is responsible not just for astringency and grip but also helps a red wine feel smooth and even sweet. The fact that one element can be responsible for both bitterness and silkiness is one of the most beguiling aspects of making wine.Mudgee – and Huntington Estate in particular – has some of the best, most [...]