With more rain over the last two days in Mudgee decisions needed to be made to ensure the viability of this years crop and to ensure that what is picked is healthy and ripe. Lowe Wines sources fruit from all over Mudgee but the flagship reds Zinfandel, Shiraz and Merlot all come from the vineyards surrounding the estate. They are dry grown, certified organic, bush vines that have been stressed and worked over the years, and now produce fruit with incredible complexity and depth. There has been no cases of Botrytis in this vineyard and many other problems that would ordinarily plague commercial, irrigated vineyards have not reared their heads.
So with this in mind it is up to David and Liam to decide on the fate of the fruit. As anyone who has been in the central tablelands over the past week will tell you this is the highest recorded rainfall in two decades. The overall impact on the harvest this year wont be seen for some time. Lack of sunlight, low temperatures, and high volume of water has meant ripening has been slow. There is a risk here that over the coming weeks if we leave the fruit out to hang in the hope that it might climb the baume scale slightly, it could get further damaged by excessive rain or potentially never reach full ripeness.
The Decision? Bring it in. Get the fruit off now while it is still looking good and get it into the vats for fermentation. No doubt we will see some lower alcohol reds this year but, is this a bad thing? A red that is aromatic, delicate, well structured, complex yet not 15%+ ABV. I haven’t been told this yet but i would hazard a guess that we will make some Rose as well. I think this would be fantastic to produce some top end Rose and the commercial market continues to grow in this area.
As the sun comes up over the vineyard it is nice to see a break in the clouds. If this would hold for a few days we should get a clean harvest and be able to start pioneering the low alcohol market.