As a start to the new financial year my Gen Y daughter, Jen, has insisted on adding a Blog to our social media elements. I like a good whinge every now and then but in this case she is absolutely correct. Our trade marked brand is Slow Wine Co. To avoid the negative connotations of this brand, we are setting out to ring in many changes this coming year. They are all designed to a) improve our products and services to you, our customers, and b) improve our business. The latter is essential to allow us to continue to produce wines with the aromas, flavours and texture that mother nature can provide when allowed to. A reasonably frequent blog posting will allow us to take you with us, so let’s make a start.
IN THE VINEYARD
We have been blessed with another great vintage. 2017 is not quite in the same league as 2015 & 2016 but then they were exceptional!
It was a season of two halves in that it was very wet in Winter and Spring, followed by a very hot and dry period leading up to harvest. This avoided excess growth and shading of the fruit.
Vintage itself was accompanied by a little too much rainfall and fluctuating temperatures (with a hot start followed by a cool finish) in March and early April.
A little disease crept into the susceptible white varieties (Chardonnay and Riesling) in the last week, but we still managed to harvest good clean fruit. Hand sorting while picking in the diseased blocks helped greatly. My instructions to the team was to only pick what you would be happy to eat. Simple but worked well.
The current weather is not ideal for our cattle, with record dryness in May and Jun. The cows are nice and contented still, and not bellowing at the sight of a ute yet, which is good. The vines are dormant so not affected, and are patiently waiting for late August pruning. A full irrigation dam helps me to remain positive, and even excited at what lays ahead of us in the vineyard.
The 2015 white varietals, the 2016 Riesling and two vintages, 2013 and 2014, of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are available for tasting at our Cellar Door in Millthorpe. It is fascinating watching customer body language as they taste the latter wines. The 2013 vintage is outselling the 2014 to date but I am just detecting the first glimmer of move towards the latter vintage. Our wines are made slowly. They also take time to reveal their true potential.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir represent my true passion, but I am also very happy with all the new aromatic whites mentioned above, as they are generally fresher and more elegant than their predecessors while retaining texture and mouth feel. My current standouts are the 2015 Rose’ and Sauvignon Blanc, although the Pinot Gris is also demonstrating the benefit of a little bottle age and is developing into a lovely soft and slightly creamy wine.
Will Rikard-Bell has now made four vintages for us and is into his fifth. His resident French assistant and friend, Paul, has commented to me that he sees steady improvement every year across the board. I agree wholeheartedly and strongly support Will’s constant careful experimentation and diversity of approach from barrel to barrel, vintage to vintage. He has many colleagues using similar processes across Australia to produce wines that are an alternative to established styles.
Given the above, it was a huge delight for Jen and I to be led by Will on a winding track through his winery to taste all the 2017 vintage from their barrels (while Scott, my son-in-law, was conducting a photo shoot with the assistance of my 3 year old granddaughter Skye.)
All the wines are looking great, with discernible differences between barrel treatments which promises great complexity in the finished wines. They are nearly 18 months away from bottling so have patience. After all, we are the Slow Wine Co.
Along the way we also had a taste of the 2016 wines that will be bottled later this year. These are nearly all in stainless steel tanks now and waiting to be cold stabilized by our fabulous high country winters and final adjustments to ensure wine stability and brightness in the bottle.
JEN’s PICK – Anybody that has met my daughter would be able to guess her favourite – The Gewurz!
It started off as a bit of a problem child. Will allowed a wild ferment to establish itself but quickly shut it down before it went completely off the rails. We were concerned that it was gone which devastated Jen. To our surprise and her delight, it has made a remarkable comeback and now looks very intriguing, with an aroma and flavour profile that remind me of ripe Apricots.
MY PICK – The 2016 Chardonnay is full and generous with great balance and complexity – a wine that I quickly declared my favourite. I called it too early though. One tank later I was tasting what I think is clearly the best Pinot Noir we have produced. It has outstanding length and structure while maintaining a lovely soft, silky and succulent mouthfeel in the mid palate. It is a product of his constant tweaking of methodology, including increased use of whole bunch fermentation, followed by careful selection of his best barrels.
WILL’s PICK – He patiently waited until we arrived at his last tank to show us the 2016 Merlot. He has declared his undying love for this wine and is looking forward to getting an opportunity to write a blog soon telling you why. I will not steal his thunder.
Once Scott finished his photos and tasted the reds, he backed the three of us in our decision that the Pinot and Merlot will be the first to earn the privilege of being released under our newly designed “Family Reserve” label. My family and I will be delighted to share them with you in due course.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Our next blog will hopefully not be too far away as we are working towards a major step forward in the marketing arena. This will greatly expand the ways that we can interact with you, our most important supporters.
To be successful in the wine industry we must build a loyal and supportive customer base which we are doing now with the newsletter, and the clubs are currently under re-arrangement so we will release them later in the year.
If you have not already signed up to our free newsletter, now is the perfect time to do so.
Our next newsletter is being sent out to all current subscribers next week, with a fantastic offer which is only available for 2 weeks, so sign up now to receive this offer. You will also receive your discount code to use on all your purchases either online or in the cellar door.
Thanks for visiting our website and taking the time to read my old man ramblings. I hope to have the opportunity to share my passion for wine with you in future blogs. Even better for me would be the opportunity to have a chat with you at our Cellar Door in Millthorpe. While wine is important, I value shared fellowship just as much. My whole family has the same belief. My last piece of advice is to ask you not to interrupt while I savour fine Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.