26 May 2014 Vintage Wrap-up
Typically, the end of vintage is called at the whim of those participating. It can be signified by the last pick and crush of the season, or the final press-load, or perhaps the end-of-vintage party. Whatever your choice it’s usually a pretty happy occasion.
For the WBB team, our last pick was on April 15th – Nebbiolo – and the final press to barrel was May 1st and included four of our small-batch alternative wines – Nebbiolo, Teroldego, Graciano and Carignan.
The 2014 season was a beauty. Good winter/spring rains brought rainfall back to the long-term average. The only blemish, for some, were storms in the lead up to summer that impacted Chardonnay flowering throughout most of the region. Consequently yields were down, yet quality still very, very high. Mild summer conditions throughout the ripening season left many in no doubt that this will be one of Margaret River’s finest years. Too soon to call, I know, I know… but you can’t help getting excited about it.
Of the popular varieties, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all look superb and there’s a good chance we’ll have a Mantra ‘Muse’ Chardonnay from this vintage. The Muse moniker is reserved for our very top end wines – not made every year, and only around 100 dozen when we do. Cabernet Sauvignon looks mighty fine also but it’s too early to say if we get a Muse version for the red.
Furthering our foray into alternative varieties and small-batch, minimal-intervention winemaking, we crushed a series of new grape varieties this year. In South Australia we added to the Nero d’Avola and Vermentino with an organically-grown Montepulciano, and a very small amount of a rare variety called Grillo – a native Sicilian white grape, to pair with our Nero (also a Sicilian native). The Montepulciano makes more of a fuller red style of wine – deeply coloured, high in tannin, with spicy, plummy and savoury characteristics.
Here in Margaret River we went all out, adding to our Nebbiolo and Teroldego (northern Italian varieties) with another Vermentino (you can never have too many), a small batch of Carignan (equally at home in Spain and France), and some Spanish/Portuguese favourites – Tempranillo, Graciano and Bastardo.
The Bastardo – all 350kg of it – was crushed into two of our clay ‘amphora’ fermentation vessels. These are handmade clay pots built especially to store wine. And that’s where it sits right now, still on skins and gently whiling away the time… as we decide when to bottle it! All up we will yield about 40 cases and it’ll be available from October we reckon.
So that’s the wrap for 2014 – another splendid year in paradise. Look out for the 2014 whites in August – the Brad white blend and the two Mantra’s – Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Semillon. If you’re on our mailing list we will be in touch to let you know release dates. Join up!