The cooler weather has slowed the ripening of the grapes and much to the relief of the winemaking crew, has meant a brief pause in grapes arriving in the winery. This week we picked Rock Block West which has been earmarked for our spectacular Rosé. The grapes were hand-picked in two separate passes through the vineyard to ensure that the berries were harvested at their absolute best.
The shiraz fruit for the Rosé was quickly transported to the winery where it was crushed and left on skins very briefly to ensure the finished wine has that delightful pink blush colour. After crushing the juice was pumped to stainless steel tanks for fermentation.
Also this week we picked viognier, an unusual white variety from France. We have not made a viognier for a number of years, but this years the fruit was outstanding and we decided to make a varietal wine. The viognier was hand-picked and then crushed and pressed immediately to oak where fermentation with indigenous yeast began.
The pickers have been hard at work in the vineyard carefully hard harvesting the Chardonnay from the Old Vine Vineyard in Bendigo. Hand picking our fruit allows our grapes to be harvested at their very best and allows the pickers to discard any of the fruit that is substandard. The quantity of the Chardonnay has been excellent although the amount of fruit harvested is slightly down on last year.
The fruit harvested is destined for our Bendigo Estate Chardonnay, our celebrated chardonnay that has been produced since the first release in 1979.
Today Balgownie Estate harvested the first grapes of it’s 50th anniversary vintage. This year will mark fifty years since vines were planted at Maiden Gully outside Bendigo and the journey of Balgownie Estate began. The fifty year history of Balgownie Estate has seen it grow to be one of the premier boutique vineyards in the country.
The first pick this morning was Chardonnay fruit that is destined for our delicious Cuvee Sparkling Brut. The berries were hand-harvested in the cool morning which is perfect for maintaining the fruit at an ideal temperature and ideal for allowing the pickers to keep cool as well.
The Chardonnay grapes that go into the Cuvee Sparkling Brut are usually the first to be harvested as we want to retain the natural acidity of the fruit. The grapes have been pressed and the juice is being held in tank for cold settling overnight – this will remove any grape skins or stems that are left floating on the juice. Tomorrow fermentation with wild yeast will begin to transform the juice into sparkling wine.
Cabernet Franc is a very ancient grape, usually thought of as a French variety, however recent studies have concluded that it likely originated in Spain. Although it is probably best recognized as a one of the varieties that constitute a traditional ‘Bordeaux blend’ along with the better known components Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, Cabernet Franc has a major role in the Loire Valley appellations of Bourgueil, Chinon and Saumur. It is also a major variety of the rosé Cabernet d'Anjou.
Cabernet Franc buds and matures earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon and is often viewed as an insurance policy against the results of poor weather. It is popular in cooler areas and the resultant wines for Cabernet Franc tend to be lighter in colour and in tannin with aromas of currants, cherries, plums and spice with an herbaceous touch.
Despite Cabernet Franc being one of the varieties brought to Australia by James Busby in 1833 it was never widely planted in Australia, with most of the fruit being used in a traditional Bordeaux Blend. It is only in more recent times that winemakers have begun to experiment and produce a straight varietal of Cabernet Franc.
The Cabernet Franc grown in Bendigo has always been a little reluctant to shine and produce it’s best. However the outstanding vintage conditions in 2017 resulted in exceptional grapes that allowed the production of a varietal Cabernet Franc (with a touch of Shiraz) for the first time. This is a lovely smooth wine with flavours of blueberries, mulberry, juniper and allspice are wrapped around a savoury core with well-balanced and fine tannins
Cellar Door Price $29 per bottle
Platinum Wine Club $21.75 per bottle
"Who doesn’t like chunky, old school Chardonnay? This is open, and generous, flush with white peach, vanilla bean oak all over the nose, the palate tauter through the finish than the juicy peach fruit suggests. Old school width, meets new school acidity. It falls just a little into tinned cream peaches, but plenty of flavour." Best drinking: Now and for the nest 2-3yrs. 90/100.