Sunday, May 3, 2009

Last grapes in today!

Sunday 3rd May

Well we are finally there! All the grapes will be in by the end of today.

It is another beautiful autumn day to pick in; mild and dry with clear skies. The grapes and trees are now in full colour and the vistas are stunning, as you will see from the accompanying images.

The team is just harvesting the last 7 rows of Cabernet Sauvignon as I write this. Earlier we brought in the last of the Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The fruit is all in good condition and we harvested about 20 tonnes more than anticipated – it’s always good to get a little extra, so no complaints there.

The Syrah is particularly impressive, which for me is a real pleasure. When we first planted Syrah in Martinborough everyone thought I was crazy. Comments like “too cold to ripen it here”, “not enough heat units” and “the wines will lack structure” were not uncommon. After three gold medals and two trophies in the first 5 years we made this wine, we no longer get this negative feedback. However we remain one of only two Martinborough wineries producing Syrah, so for us it is an important point of difference. I’m not sure why other vineyards don’t try it, but that’s good for us! Like classic Hermitage, the wines are generous and well balanced, with strong aromas and a complete bouquet. They age very well and become smooth and mellow when they mature. This shot of Steve sorting the Syrah as it goes into the destemmer illustrates our efforts to ensure only the very best grapes make it into our wines

I am often asked the difference between Shiraz and Syrah. The most important point to make is they are actually just two different names for the same grape. As the name Shiraz tends to be used on Australian wines, while Syrah is used on wines from cooler climates, people think the name emerged in there, but that is not the case. The names were used interchangeable much further back in time and the history of the grape (and its name) makes for fascinating reading. Have a look at for a well-researched article on all this.

Regardless of the name, this is a variety that makes fantastic, food-friendly wines of great interest and longevity. In my mind, cool-climate Syrah challenges Pinot Noir as a wine of complexity and interest. I say ‘cool-climate’ to differentiate Syrah growing in these conditions from their less interesting cousins growing in hotter climates.