I've got whiplash. This time last year we were knee-deep in water (literally). Now it's dry as a bone, and we've already had a heatwave.
Having said that, the vines are looking absolutely superb as I write this with strong and even growth, good leaf colour and good shape. 6 years of all in-house pruning, the last 3 years of good rain and cool temperatures, a lot of work on organic nutrition, soil and vine health has set us up beautifully, and there is good resilience in the vineyard to cope with the warm and dry winter and spring we've had.
Budburst was a couple of weeks earlier than usual, desuckering is done, and we're moving on to shoot-thinning to reduce yield and thirsty canopy. Flowering is happening now, with fruit-set due mid-November. Fingers crossed for more rain and continued cool (was a very fresh 6 degrees this morning).
The new vines are well established and really thriving - plantings of grenache, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay from over the last 5 years.
The compost of grape marc (byproduct of vintage), straw, wood chip and manure has been spread; and mulched where needed. We were fortunate to get 30ml of rain a few days later to water it in.
We're giving the irrigation system a bit of an overhaul - I suspect we'll be putting it through its paces this season. It will make a refreshing change from battling disease and gruelling spray regimes I suppose!
Our winemaker Derek is back from his well-deserved post vintage break, and first visit home since 2018. Our young cellar hand Nathan has settled in well and is appreciated by us all for his work ethic, aptitude to learn and how he conducts himself.
The 2023 reds are maturing in barrel and living up to their initial promise. We got the picking dates just right for everything and I'm delighted to confirm my early call that this is the best red vintage I've seen in Mudgee.
I'm especially excited about the Grand Reserve, which we co-fermented again this year, and gets even better every vintage. I also love the body and balance of the Reserve Grenache. The Cabernets and Shirazes have the deepest, darkest colours ever, as well as great freshness, vibrancy, depth and complexity.
The Chardonnays are also looking good. I'm so happy we're now in the position to release these wines with 18+ months of age on them - it's always been my ambition. They will go into bottle shortly.
The first of the 2023 wines are released in this newsletter, and they demonstrate what this vintage can do.
Operations & Site Manager Scott has worked his magic and got the bottling machine and winery in great shape – ready for a very busy run as the bottling of the 2022 reds is coming up. We took delivery of an entire B-Double of bottles yesterday! The wines look really great - I'm a very happy chief winemaker!