Tough but fair
By Dan Berrigan
Well, the 2017 harvest has finally finished, phew, dodged a bullet!
Vintage (or harvest as it’s often called), is an incredibly stressful, exciting, busy, tiring, and rewarding time of year. It’s the time of year when the last 9 months of hard work in the vineyard comes to fruition, and the grapes are harvested and fermented into wine.
So much can go wrong, both in the vineyard and the winery, with variable weather conditions, harvest logistics, fermentation, pressing etc, all of which are incredibly stressful, but seeing the results of all that hard work is both amazing and rewarding.
This is what makes the wine industry so alluring to be a part of, and wine so interesting and unique amongst other alcoholic beverages.
This year, we were also proud to announce that we now have our own vineyard, and are very confident that the fruit it produces will continue to be a great representation of the best of Mt Benson!
Let’s take a look at how things went in V17, and how it translates into the wines that you’ll see in bottle from Berrigan Wines.
Starting off with a wet end to winter and a late, cool, windy spring, budburst was later than average and the vines put on growth slowly due to subdued daytime temperatures. Frost risk was nil this year thanks to consistent winds throughout the danger period.
Flowering followed soon after and again it was late. Conditions were sunny and the coastal winds were still prominent, yet a brief moment of reprieve coincided with flowering, so we thanked our lucky stars and positivity returned to the season. Bunch numbers were again up on average, so we were excited at the potential of good yields off the Robe & Mt Benson vineyards.
The weather calmed down a little moving into summer, but a sizeable rain event just after Xmas resulted in wet & worryingly humid conditions in the vineyard. Growers that were lazy with their sprays soon saw powdery mildew in the vineyard, which is unusual in our region in mid-summer. Several more rain events followed over the coming months, and all were accompanied by 4-5 days of very humid conditions. There was a bit of panic around the greater Limestone Coast region, as reports of Downey Mildew surfaced, with botrytis showing up in the whites. So far this season was throwing everything at us and really tested our skills as grape growers.
The Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon all looked good early on with plenty of small bunches indicating a good skin to juice ratios and potential for colour and flavour intensity. Veraison was relatively quick and consistent in all of the Merlot and Shiraz however, a small portion of the Cabernet had some initial un-even ripening. This section was noted and allocated to receive a more open and exposed canopy to minimise the green flavours in the fruit.
The weather conditions started to dry up towards the end of the season, but cool misty mornings meant that disease pressure remained high. Baumes of the remaining reds (Shiraz and Cab), were rising slowly, so a decision to pick was made based solely on flavour and tannin maturity in the grapes. This was not a good season to let the grapes hang for too long on the vine.
In conclusion, things look pretty good despite the very difficult season. This year we learnt so much!
Quality is as high as ever, the colour is deep, the flavours varietal and oh so typical of our beautiful, cool climate regions. Couldn’t ask for more really.
Final alcohol on the Reds will be lower than average, hovering around the 13-13.5% mark. Slightly lighter tannins will also be common from V17 reds.
With the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc already in bottle, we can honestly say this could be our best Savvy yet. The Chardonnay and reds are rugged up and cozy in their barrels and are resting, waiting for their time to shine.
We are also super excited to announce a new wine to the Berrigan lineup. Its a Pinot! Pinot Noir that is… Look out for it early 2018