The 2016 vintage has been a compressed vintage so far with the moderate, warm weather and high sun levels ripening all the grapes quickly and evenly. This week at Balgownie Estate in the Yarra Valley we had a large crew of pickers on board who very quickly hand harvested the remaining Chardonnay and also managed to pick all our Pinot Noir. With the ideal ripening conditions over the preceding weeks we have been able to pick our Pinot Noir with optimal levels of flavour and the ideal balance between acid and sugar levels.
At Balgownie Estate in Bendigo, this week has seen the beginning of the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon. Traditionally Cabernet is one of the last grape varieties to be picked as it is a late ripening variety that requires abundant sun to get ideal flavour and ripeness. Winemaker Tony Winspear has been very happy with the Cabernet as it has been hand-picked with lovely intense fruit flavours. The Cabernet has joined the Shiraz and Merlot in the winery undergoing fermentation in open vats with daily hand plunging for a gentle extraction of fruit, flavour and tannin.
Today grape picking has begun at Balgownie Estate in the Yarra Valley. The first parcel of Chardonnay fruit was hand-picked and is looking amazing with a beautiful balance between fresh fruit flavours and fresh, crisp acid. The remaining fruit will be picked next week; hand picking the vineyard in multiple passes results in the fruit being picked at the perfect time when the fruit is its best.
In Bendigo, the winery is operating at capacity with nearly all fermenters in use. The Chardonnay has completed its fermentation and has been pressed into French oak barrels. The Rosé is undergoing a long and slow fermentation to retain its fruit character and youthful vibrancy.
Meanwhile the Shiraz and Merlot are also happily undergoing fermentation in open vats with daily hand plunging to ensure the gentle extraction of colour, flavour and tannins. This week the Sangiovese was also hand-picked in terrific condition with rich fruit flavours and impeccable balance.
Although vintage has occurred a touch earlier than usual, the fruit produced this year in Bendigo has been of outstanding quality and flavour and the 2016 wines will be highly sought after on their release.
This week we have started picking the Shiraz at Balgownie Estate in Bendigo. The first vineyards picked have been fruit grown for the Black Label Shiraz.
Today picking has started in the old vine vineyards with fruit that is destined for The Estate Shiraz. The first vineyards to be picked were the Railway Block and the Centre Block. The consistent sunshine and warm temperatures in Bendigo has resulted in berries being picked in fantastic condition, beautifully ripe and full of flavour.
The fruit has been transported to the winery and crushed and is currently beginning its fermentation in open fermenters. The wine making staff are very excited about the quality of the Shiraz fruit and are confident of producing an outstanding wine.
Shiraz Grapes being tipped into the crusher to begin their journey into wine
The 2016 harvest has begun at Balgownie Estate in Bendigo. The abundant sunshine has ripened the grapes and the Estate Chardonnay was handpicked over the last few days. The fruit is in excellent condition and has been harvested at 12.5° baumé, with great natural acidity. Balgownie Estate Winemaker Tony Winspear is very excited about the potential for the Estate Chardonnay for 2016 and is confident of producing a wine with great finesse, elegance and beautiful fruit character.
The first batches of chardonnay are currently being fermented using wild yeast - that is indigenous yeasts that are present in the vineyard. These yeasts add an individual character, as well as texture and complexity to the finished wine. In the coming days the fermentation will be completed and the finished wine will be racked off yeast lees and pumped into French oak barrels where it will develop over the remainder of the year.
Today Shiraz for use in our fabulous Black Label Rosé has also been picked. The grapes have been picked with the ideal balance between flavour and sweetness to produce a wine that is lovely and sweet but not cloying. This wine comes from the Triangle Vineyard in Bendigo, a well-established vineyard that consistently produces beautiful ripe shiraz grapes. As the 2015 Black Label Rosé has been such a success at our Cellar Door in the Yarra Valley and Bendigo we are increasing production and will have more of the 2016 Rosé.
The 2012 Balgownie Estate Shiraz has been released with a number of excellent reviews from Australia’s foremost wine writers.
"Good colour, a splash of vanillan/coffeed oak and a wealth of grainy, tannin-shot fruit. This is a sure contender for the cellar. Sweet, ripe blackberry and violet with mint notes at modest levels. Not exactly bright, but fresh and lively enough. Indeed, all seems in excellent order."
Drink to: 2032
Purple maroon. Squishy berries, a little haunch and some deep blackness. Seriously rich and dense nose. Powerful palate takes that meaty, purple berry fruit, a streak of vanilla oak and then soft, lingering tannins. Love the purple berry pepper, the warmth the only full stop. Finishes savoury, long and black fruited - a genuinely delicious wine and everything in its right place... Sure to get better in time though."
“A powerful, typical Bendigo red. The tannins are persuasive and the wine blossoms in the glass – and with hearty food. Great intensity and depth. It will reward cellaring. (14.5 per cent alcohol; screw cap). Ageing? Best between two and 22 years."
Food Idea: Braised steak and mushroom
Value: Very good
The vineyards in the Yarra Valley have reached veraison. This is the point where the grapes begin to change colour and the berries begin to ripen and accumulate sugar. White grapes, such as Chardonnay begin to take on their characteristic yellow/green colour while red grapes such as Pinot Noir begin to turn to a red/black colour as shown below.
Lovely mix of savoury dark purple fruits, powdery chocolate oak, a little meaty sausage spiciness and soft, fine tannins. Only medium bodied, but balances out nicely, if perhaps a little confected. (Blend of Heathcote and Bendigo fruit with a dash of Viognier)
Read more here.
The warm weather that we have experienced in the Yarra Valley along with the good rainfall has given the vines a magnificent start toward the 2016 vintage. The abundance of sun and water throughout December and January has caused an explosion of growth in the vines and the rapid development of the grape berries. The friut is looking fantastic and is developing faster than is typical, which will result in early picking in 2016.
Pinot Noir berries at Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley.