26/04/2005 - 22:00

Vintage 2005

26/04/2005 - 22:00

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Winemakers have faced a final hurdle as vintage 2005 draws to a close, particularly in the South West, where recent rain has added a extra dimension to near-completed programs.

Vintage 2005

Winemakers have faced a final hurdle as vintage 2005 draws to a close, particularly in the South West, where recent rain has added a extra dimension to near-completed programs.

Will Shields, chief winemaker at Clairault in Margaret River, told Gusto the 60 millimetres that fell recently could spell trouble for producers still picking reds.

In spite of this, he says, “rainfall has definitely been down.

 “It was an early Easter in many ways. We’ve seen early blossom and a generally mild summer.”

Some botrytis has already been detected in southern parts of the state’s most prominent wine region, but Mr Shields says the generally low levels of infection are due to the cool, dry summer.

Mr Shields describes this vintage as one rewarding patience, saying that exceptional colours coming off the fruit will translate into wines of superior quality.

 “We can see strong varietal flavours present in all our wines. With the aromatics, they are really reflecting a cooler year,” he says.

“Typical sweaty flavours are in the sauvignon blanc but these blend into tropical tones.”

With Clairault’s chardonnay sitting comfortably on lees, and oak treatment to follow, Margaret River’s most famous variety will begin to develop the texture for which it is known.

As far as the reds are concerned Mr Shields says he’s “not seeing as much ‘green’ characteristics as before, which is really exciting.

“There’s already deep blueberry and plums on it at the moment. You could see the quality of this fruit as soon as it went into the press.”

With much attention focused on July bottling, Mr Shields already has half of Clairault’s red fruit in oak and is busy racking the wines.

During this phase of vintage, winemakers keep a close eye on the development of their wine. They will slowly move from primary/sugar fermentation to malolactic fermentation. This progression is particularly important to the safety of the reds, giving them structure and body.

“This is when real winemaking begins,” Mr Shields says.

“Picking is hard, but you’re really waiting to get the fruit in so you can start making wine”.

As well as filtering and processing, winemakers are kept busy with the less glamorous tasks of labelling and budgeting.

“I just concentrate on keeping things simple, not cutting any corners,” Mr Shields says.

 “There are not too many tricks out there. If you get good fruit ... you don’t have to trick around with it too much.

 “And we know we get good fruit. So after that you just focus on getting the best out of what you’re good at.

 “It’s a process that gets better all the time.”

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