Vintage 2014: A Rollercoaster

Seriously, who'd be in farming?! The ride from bud burst to harvest this year has been like a rollercoaster: the highest of highs, the lowest lows. I still feel giddy from it all.

It all started well. We had a wet winter and mild spring. Bud burst came and we passed the tricky frost zone from mid to late September... everything was growing nicely, we had high hopes for a good vintage. After all, frosts only strike in dry springs, and never past early October, right?

Until last year! 18 October, 2013 to be precise. The date will stay forever etched in my memory... everything was savaged. For weeks it looked as though the vineyard was dead, struck by napalm, the leaves brown and shriveled. It was so dispiriting. I used to come home the long way so I didn’t have to drive past the vineyard.

We did get a re-shoot, albeit small. About one tenth of normal crop size.

And then the dry and extreme heat hit: three waves of days-on-end over 40 degrees! The little creek at the bottom of the vineyard dried up, but the vines soldiered on. The drooping canes we had encouraged shaded the fruit from sunburn, and provided it with some illusion of cool.

But in spite of all that was thrown at us, and the small size of the crop, there were lots of upsides.

The Saignée we have produced is delicious, with delicate spicy Turkish delight flavours and a shy pink colour. It is crisp and long, delicate yet mouthfilling. Making Rosé is quite an art. And I think this, our second ever rosé, is more complex and Provencal in style than our first attempt.

The Prosecco (base wine at this stage) is also delicious and lemony-fresh. It is just about to go into its second fermentation and be made into sparkling wine, and looks every bit as fresh and attractive as last year's.

The Vermentino is elegant and flavoursome, and will benefit from a few months on lees before bottling.

Although the Roussanne crop was tiny, the fruit was deep and quite rich in flavour and length. I will watch this wine with interest as it spends time in barrel and on lees over the next year.

The Shiraz Roussanne is very exciting, with aromatic fruit and delicious flavours of cherry on the nose. The small Roussanne component gives texture and weight to the mid-palate.

And the Primitivo we picked as usual in two parcels: the first to dry in the silos. The fruit (shown above) was picture perfect, plump and blemish free. It dried nicely in the warm Autumn days in the silos, shrinking in size by a third and developing rich chocolatey flavours. The second parcel was picked just before the weather broke and the Autumn rains came. We couldn’t have had better timing. I am looking forward to seeing how this wine develops in the coming months.

So some terrific wines for us all to look forward to in the coming months and years. Watch this space.