Vintage 2019 started early for Alkimi Wines, not because of the warm weather, but rather that we have branched out from the later-ripening Rhone varieties into the more typical Yarra Valley varieties. These varieties include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and also a batch of single vineyard sparkling wine, which initiated the early start. The sparkling needs to undergo a secondary fermentation and be allowed to sit and rest for a number of years. Unfortunately, it will not be released for quite some time to maximise the quality of the wine.
Like the sparkling, the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have all been selected from premium vineyards in the “upper” Yarra Valley. I aim continue my winemaking philosophies with this range which is to make wines which are pure, simple and reflect the place from which the grapes came from.
This years’ Rhone Collection will feature Marsanne, Rosé and Grenache once again. I have also taken a portion of Marsanne aside and fermented it on the skins. An unusual process for white grapes; which are usually separated from their skins immediately after harvest. This wine is a bit of spin on the successful 2016 Marsanne “Intrèprede” which was also fermented on skins. This wine has taken on an orange colour (thanks to the skins), thus will be referred to as an orange wine when released in due time.
We will shortly be releasing a dessert wine from 2018. This will be released in conjunction with the spring releases and it may even make some appearances with some wine dinners in the coming months. Stay tuned!
Now that all the ferments are complete and the wines are in barrel for the winter, we can turn our attention to promotional activities. We will be soon participating in the Autumn series of the Urban Wine Walk and also be participating in the final ever Game of Rhones event in Melbourne.
And to keep the wine flowing, we will be announcing a few more dinners and events shortly for spring.
Big news! Alkimi has leased a vineyard! And I've been busy getting it pruned and ready for the pending growing season.
The vineyard is Syrah and it's in the Yarra Valley in Silvan. Silvan is quite a southern suburb in the Yarra, and it has an average elevation of around 250 metres above sea level. Deep red volcanic soils dominate the area, and this vineyard is no exception.
I took on the vineyard for many reasons, but the most important factor was wine quality. When tasting wines one cannot help but be in awe of a select few. These select few are not necessary the big players, or players with lots of cash, or even players who have cult followings. These few are producers who grow their own fruit; the ones who always have the ends goal of great wine in mind. They can manipulate their vineyards to suit the season and get exceptional fruit. Which makes the purest wine.
So I hope to bring this vineyard back up to a high producing level soon. At the moment it is in an abandoned state, so it's going to take a couple of years at least before I can see any fruit worth mentioning. After that I can then begin to discover it's full potential of what it can do and what it can't do.
I have great plans for Yarra Syrah in the coming years, and this vineyard plays an important role in that. Stay tuned for that one!
It's been a longtime between posts.
Vintage 2017 was a great success. Overall, mild summer conditions lead to exceptional ripening conditions in the Yarra Valley. Flavour and colour development was leading sugar accumulation. Also, tannin and seeds had plenty of time to mature before harvest. Happy days!
The great conditions lead to an attenuated harvest period, where patience was the key. Back to the old days hey?
A late finish to vintage means a quick turn around for bottling. I'm bottling my 2017 rosé in a little over a week. This will coincide with the completion of my 2016 rosé.
On another note, we are showing our wines at this year's Game of Thrones event in Melbourne. This is the second time we're participating and hope we can make an impact in battle. Click here for more info and tickets.
Usually in mid-April we would still have ferments going, and possibly even grapes still ripening on the vines! But this year's harvest has been so short and sharp we barely had time to think! The harvest went for an unprecedented 3 weeks, where the standard time is double that!
Grenache is usually one of the last varieties to come off, but this year it was the first! The lack of water in Heathcote meant that the grapes ripened quickly. I also picked Marsanne 6 weeks before anyone had ever picked in the 20 years the vineyard had been established! Syrah was also at least 7 - 10 days ahead of it usual progress also. It was a vintage where we all had to stay on our toes to pick the grapes at the optimum times!
And now, as winter is coming, wine is coming too. We are participating in this years "Game of Rhones" event in Melbourne in June. It is an exciting event, and a great match for the Alkimi wines, as I only make Rhône Valley varieties! We hope to do well from the event and continue to build the brand.
Things are ticking along nicely at the moment. A warm (and somewhat) dry season thus far has kept disease pressure low. Meaning attention turns to heat and water management in the vineyard. Fingers crossed Mother Nature is good to us!
The winery is gearing up gradually. I am warming up with pulling wines out of barrel in preparation for bottling in late January. The big day come when vintage kicks off in February. Given the current and forecasted weather patterns, it is fair to say it will be an early, short and sharp vintage; one that will keep us one our toes. I have every intention being warmed up and ready to tackle anything that is thrown at me over the coming vintage,
I happy to say the wines I've released thus far have received great responses from media and trade (and also friends and family, but they always say that!). It is a hard industry to crack and every positive response received helps with publicity and mental prosperity. I'm settling in for the long haul and I feel my first step is on the right (right?) track.
For now, I'll make the most of the time I have and keep stretching.
Just last week, I bottled up the 2015 Roussanne, Rosè and Grenache Noir. New wines means new labels and the great thing about that is the "family" of labels can be soon unveiled.
As with the 2014 Syrah label, there is a strip at the bottom of each new label with a different snippet of an oil painting which was created specifically for my wine labels.
The artwork for the labels was painted by artist Christopher Shelton. Chris describes himself as an abstract expressionist that still understands how to visually explain the world we live in. He has been professionally exhibiting his oil paintings for over 25 years; and most importantly, Chris is a passionate artist and an avid fine wine drinker. I am delighted to have had Chris' artistic interpretation of my own winemaking passion and philosophy put into a beautiful visual piece which I will carry as the centrepiece of Alkimi labels into the future.
To discover more about Chris' artwork and philosophy, visit:
The original Alkimi piece, painted by Christopher Shelton
Alkimi Wines is the creation of Stuart Dudine and name reflects his philosophy and approach to wine; making exceptional wine is the ability to use one's skills and knowledge in a manner that will craft wines that are beautiful to drink.