Winter is truly upon us; many frosty mornings, cold winds and decent rainfall constantly remind us of the current season. This is the time of the year to take stock and make plans for the next nine months.
I have recently been looking at barrel samples and blends over the last week and I'm extremely happy with what has been on the tasting bench. The season was very strong and the wines should be nothing but.
I am beginning to prepare labels and I will soon start booking bottling for my early-to-bottle wines from V15. The wines that will head down the line (hopefully) before October are Roussanne, Rosè and the Grenache Noir. Of these, my most enjoyable wine to make has been the Rosè as it is a blend of the three varieties I picked in V15. It's a bit off the wall and just a bit of fun, but nevertheless I hope the result is a good one.
I look forward to getting these three wines under everyone's noses before summer.
Now vintage is officially over and all the wines have been put to bed, the winery becomes a very quiet place. It is a stark contrast of how life was only a few weeks ago when the smell of fermentations filled the winery in the mornings.
During vintage, the days roll into one and it’s not uncommon to get cabin fever and get a little crazy. But in a blink of an eye the vintage finishes, and we all can get a good night sleep and a weekend off. At about 3 – 4 weeks after the end of vintage we tend to get the post vintage blues, where all the emotions begin to boil over and all you want to do is head back to the winery at 6am and crush some grapes.
It seems crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, as it’s the passion for the work that keeps me going. I’m motivated by the sights, the smells, the changes and the challenges we face every day during vintage and the passion is a huge part in what goes into making a bottle of wine. Without it, wine has no personality and character. I’m now already looking forward to vintage 2016. Bring it on!
A recent post I made on Twitter made some noise. What I posted isn't important, nor how many retweets I had (only 2!). What was important was I received an e-mail from a (quite well-known and respected) Australian Wine Writer. He was interested in my post and wanted to investigate the topic further - as all good journalists should do!
After I returned candid and brief e-mail, I promptly received a phone call from the Wine Writer. We spoke at length about the topic I had tweeted about. After our lengthly conversation, we began to speak about other things and he asked me about the Alkimi wines. I told of my plans and he was good enough to suggest some people I should get in contact with to help me find what I was looking for. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation as he spoke with knowledge, experience and was interested to understand my point of view.
It can be as small as a telephone conversation, but it gave me a fresh and positive view on the journalist's side of the wine industry. It was great to talk such a genuine person on a professional level. It made me realise we're all after the same thing in this game; wine that is honest and good drinking.
Things are ticking along nicely in the Yarra Valley and summer is almost upon us. We're just about through the frost-risk period, and unlike our friends in Barossa and Clare, we've made it through unscathed. October rainfall is very low, and there is no rain predicted in the near future. Fortunately our dams are full from good winter rains, and hopefully we're able to tackle the potential dry spell head-on to set up for a good vintage.
My 2014 Alkimi Syrah is gaining weight in barrel as the weather warms up, and I'll start thinking about racking it from barrel soon for a December bottling. I've given the oil painting by Chris Shelton to a graphic designer who is hard at it designing a label for my Syrah. I'm looking forward to the final product, and seeing it on a bottle of my wine.
Next vintage I'll be increasing production and widening my portfolio with more wines. I'm determined to ensure I lock in white grapes before vintage, to ensure I don't miss out at the last minute two years in a row. Bring on V15!
Well Winter is all but officially finished, and I write this post looking into a beautiful sunny day in the Yarra Valley. Pruning is finished and there is a lot of wooly buds in vineyards. As far a I look at it vintage 2015 has begun. The pruning decisions made over winter sets the tempo for the next 8 - 9 months, and all we can do now is strap ourselves in and take whatever mother nature throws at us in the best way we can.
My 2014 Syrah is currently maturating in barrel and I'm very happy with what I produced. I plan on bottling the wine around christmas time, for a release of late summer or early Autumn 2015. At this point my attention turns to label design and I'm lucky enough to have an artist designing my label theme. Chris Shelton has been kind enough to design my labels based on what I like about his work, Chris is an avid wine drinker and he is equally excited about my wine as what I am about his artwork.
Things will be moving very fast from now until the end of vintage 2015. Another year, another journey.
It was more a marathon than a sprint but all the grapes have been picked, and just about all the ferments are complete, and the wines are tucked away in barrel.
Although yields are down across most of Australia, quality is high to exceptional. The real winners were the late ripening varieties. Making for a great year to make my first Syrah. I took about two thirds of my pick and made a whole berry fermentation. The aim for fruit, brightness and perfume. The remainder of my fruit parcel I sent to a tank, and sealed it up for 5 weeks. Although I looked after the tank, I largely let the ferment do its own thing for this time. I wanted to gain some tight tannin, and another flavour profile from the stalk contact into my blend from this component. End result is great, and the wine is happily sleeping in barrel until what will probably be around New Year for bottling. Watch out for a release come Autumn next year!
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.