Friday, February 19, 2010

100,000+ Meters of Bird Netting!!

Finished at last. The team have laid out over 100 kilometers of bird netting in the last 3 weeks - that's a long way, and a mountain of nets. We actually had to build an extra shed to store them when not in use!

Have a look at the attached images. We use side nets as that allows us to continue to manage the canopy, even after the nets are on. Many vineyards use over-row nets but, while easier and less time consuming to apply, these don't permit any further trimming after they in place. The downside with side nets is that there is a lot more clipping of the nets together to keep the birds out. We buy the bio-degradable clips we use in lots of 500,000, so think about that too!

It took 2 guys working flat out nearly two weeks to finish the clipping, then last weekend a gale (150km+ winds), broke quite a few clips so we had to replace them. In fact the winds were so strong on our 'Highfold Block' that several vineyard posts snapped off - now that's a strong wind. These are not thin sticks we are talking about. We like the sloping vineyards for their extra sunlight hours, no frosts and the great drainage, but times like this do make one realise the saying "no gain without pain" is very true.

Why do we need nets? It's because of the *$%%$@!# birds! If we did not net we would risk losing upwards of 20% of our fruit to the little devils. If they just took the odd grape and flew away, that would not be so bad, but what actually happens is that they peck a hole in one grape on a bunch, enjoy some of the juice and move on. That grape then weeps the rest of it's juice onto the bunch, it then goes mouldy and is lost to us. On top of the nets, we use measures like scarers and hawks (we hang meat out for them & when they come for the meat, they frighten off the smaller birds). Other wineries use all sorts of things: electronic scarers, scarecrows, gas cannons and so on. It's a real battle and people try all sorts of things, but believe me, the birds work out ways around all of them. They may be small, but it's not a one-sided fight!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Murdoch James 2004 'Blue Rock' Pinot Noir

Just a quick post today for anyone who has some of our 2004 'Blue Rock' Pinot Noir in the cellar. We tasted one recently from our library stocks, and the view was that if you still have any we would recommend enjoying it now. While the wine will not 'fall over' tomorrow it is just past it's best, so sensible to enjoy it soon. It is from a cooler vintage where the wines did not reach the depth and concentration we usually achieve at Blue Rock. 

The colour is a pale garnet, and shows signs of reaching maturity. As lovers of this wine will recall, it is made solely from the Abel clone of Pinot Noir, which constituted much of Martinborough's original plantings. This is a clone with lovely floral notes in the bouquet, and a rich pallate. This wine did not disappoint in that respect; it had hints of violets on the nose, with rich savoury elements and a hint of earthiness. The texture was smooth and silky after 5 years in bottle. Enough acidity remains to provide a good backbone to the remaining fruit (cherries and red berries). Enjoy now.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vega Sicilia

Time for a change from vineyard discussions!

Thursday last week, we had dinner with some dear friends down from Auckland. We have known Tom and Faye for over 30 years, so the occasion deserved a decent wine. I went down to our cellars at Murdoch James Estate to see what I had in my personal wine collection, and found a bottle of 1970 (yes, 1970) Vega Sicilia Unico. Actually, I found 6 bottles, which is great, as you will see from the following tasting notes.

Vega Sicilia is Spain's most famous vineyard and many of the wines they make are held back 10 or more years after bottling, before release - in the case of the 1970, I believe it was 20 years!

Notes: Dark, almost  inky in colour, just a hint of browning at the edges; when first poured a little restrained (you would be too after 40 years!), but in the glass, really opened up with earthy, leathery notes emerging. Every time we took a sniff, it opened up even more. Hints of lovely red fruits at the end - I could have sniffed this wine for hours. In essence, the nose opened up to a complexity we rarely see in such old wines. 

Then to taste it.... unbelievable!  Vibrant acidity, with dark fruits and still robust wood notes. After all this time, the wine was perfectly integrated, and although a earthy with a masculine finish, it had a lingering delicacy on the finish that justified current selling prices (up to US$ 750 I'm told).

Ah well, back to budgets and making much more modestly priced wine tomorrow!