21 January 2013
Happy new year to you all. Now that we are firmly into 2013, I’d thought a few words reflecting on 2012 might be worthwhile.
The year started with plenty of rain following a very wet 2011 calendar year. It had us a little nervous as we kept getting closer to the harvest – mother nature is like that, she never really tells you what she is going to do. Fortunately, she was kind and the closer we got to the harvest the drier the weather become. In the end we had a glorious and warm Indian summer that really made the vintage. There are some very smart wines that are about to hit the market including the Mountain Range white wines (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc & pinot gris). The reds look pretty smart as well and will be bottled in late-February. The 2012 vintage will also see the return of the Swift Family Heritage flagship wine after missing out on 2011. And there are some special bottlings to come out of the vintage as well – but more of that later in the year.
One of the real highlights was the launch of the Swift Sparkling brand in October. This is a project we have been working on for a couple of years and it was great to finally release some sparkling wines for everyone to enjoy. This has been an incredibly exciting project to work on. It has involved a couple of trips to Champagne (always good fun), testing yourself with producing a different style of wine (one with bubbles). It takes time and patience. The first Swift sparkling wines are from the 2010 vintage. We have dedicated the Swift brand to sparkling wines only rather than releasing them as Printhie wines. Distribution deals are being put in place and samples have been sent to the trade and wine media, so hopefully you will see them popping up around town soon.
Printhie had some terrific critical appraisals this year with some great wine reviews. James Halliday awarded us a 5 star rating for the fifth year in a row and awarded the 2010 Mt Canobolas Collection Shiraz a whopping 96 points, which put it in the Best of the Best Shiraz category. To be judged as producing one of the best Shiraz’s in Australia, given that Shiraz is Australia’s most famous and widely produced varietal was pretty pleasing. There was some good wine show success as well. The highlight was the 2011 Mt Canoblas Collection (MCC) Shiraz picking up a double trophy at the Orange Wine Show for Best Shiraz and Best Red Wine.
As the vines sprouted new growth in spring to signal the start of another growing season, the skies dried up and we have had just a meagre 45mm of rain since budburst. Fortunately we had good sub-soil moisture so the vines have produce a plentiful canopy to ripen the crop. However, the amount of grapes on the vine are looking pretty small. I think we are headed into a classic dry year vintage – a bit like 2010 – small crop, high quality. At least this year we are getting a proper summer. We haven’t had one of those for a few years.
Look out for our vintage 2013 updates here on our website or follow us on Twitter @PrinthieWines and follow the #V13 hashtag.
04 June 2012
The vintage period of the winemaking calendar is taxing on every winemaker, both physically and mentally. The days are long, the work is physical and there are a million things to think about. Reading for fun, especially about wine, in any ‘spare’ time would seem, on the surface, as a somewhat unnecessary activity. However, there are always little bits of inspiration to be drawn from insightful writers and industry commentators, just as your eyelids drop shut.
Without doubt the best vintage read I’ve ever had was Andrew Jefford’s ‘The New France; A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine’. This is a landmark work, beautifully written, very measured and with great insight. It kept me awake at night when I should have been sleeping. It caused me to re-assess and question my winemaking practices, to step back and think outside ‘my’ square.
This vintage reading was ‘Authentic Wine: Toward Natural and Sustainable Winemaking’ by Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop. This was another compelling read. There was a lot of info that wasn’t necessarily new to me but every now and again there was a paragraph that would stop me in my tracks and cause me to re-assess both the big picture of winemaking and some of the finer detail. This is the aspect of a good vintage read, something that makes me ask questions of myself and a little bit of inspiration thrown in.
If you love the subject of wine, then these two books are absolutely essential reading. You may not agree with every assertion, that is not the point. However, you will close the cover and put the books down with a deeper understanding of the very complex world of wine.
29 May 2012
Vintage 2012 Report
Prior to the beginning of harvest in the Orange region, southern NSW received quite a bit of rain and in some cases major flooding. Reports circulated and continue to do so that NSW wine regions in general were a wash-out. Many of the reports were based on assumptions from people not actually in the so-called ‘affected regions’. The story on the ground is rather different. The Orange region was on the northern fringe of this weather pattern. And while we did not escape the rain entirely, we certainly escaped the flooding entirely – that’s the advantage of growing grapes on the side of a mountain.
Admittedly, at the beginning of March, after the rain, some vignerons nerves were on a knife edge. However, we learnt some valuable viticultural lessons in the cool and wet 2011 vintage. Therefore, were in a great position to take full advantage of the wonderful sunny and dry weather that followed in the second half of March through to mid-April. This stretch of good weather was better than any experienced through the summer. In general, the grapes across most varieties have ripened fully with minimal disease.
It has been a strange vintage but aren’t they all. I am not about to declare it the vintage of the century, nor even the decade. A cool summer with regular rainfall has made it a vintage of patience and seizing the opportunity when it arises to pick grapes in their prime. As a generalisation quality is pretty solid, no doubt helped by lower than average yields and a wonderful indian summer. The potential for sparkling wine is fantastic. Typically, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling look very promising. Reds are still fermenting and being pressed but colour and ripe flavours are looking great. Site selection and having planted the right variety in the right place will be an important quality factor. The potential is very good for those that have got those factors right.
There may be some distant pundits who will too easily dismiss another tricky vintage. This would be a terrible mistake. It could have easily all gone to pot but it didn’t. I’ll look forward to taking the 2012 wines through maturation to the bottle.
This report was originally published in WBM Magazine - May 2012
Follow us on Twitter