Chardonnay – coming home to roost…

It’s funny how life moves in swings and roundabouts – and somehow we always end up back where it all started.

Our viticulturalist, Bruce Pearce, has been busily toiling and preparing a small block ready for planting chardonnay on our Miamup Road vineyard in Margaret River in recent months.

It will be the second time in my lifetime that we have planted chardonnay which over the years has drifted in-and-out of fashion.

Chardonnay is definitely back in demand now, and there are some absolute crackers on the market, but knowing it will be four years before our vineyard comes into production, who knows what might happen; the sails could change direction again, though I hope not.

The most obvious observation from my perspective has been the change in climate which over the years has altered from when we first grew chardonnay at our Carabooda vineyard in the 80s.

We produced some lovely wines from that property, and, in what is another twist of fate, it was chardonnay from Bruce’s family vineyard at Mount Barker’s Forest Hill property, that these very cuttings came from.

After many years of diminishing crop levels and excessive summer heat, which was making quality fruit near impossible to produce, we decided to source chardonnay from the South West.

The South West has not been totally immune from the warming and drying climate (though you may disagree judging by the frighteningly cold weather we’ve experienced this week). Ironically, we are now harvesting chardonnay in Margaret River at the same time we used to pick it up here in Perth during vintage season.

It should be remembered that these days we generally pick fruit at a lower sugar level, which means our wines have potentially lower alcohol levels which could also account for the earlier picking dates.

Bruce has spent many hours analysing and preparing our Miamup Road site, so when the cuttings are planted this spring, they will have the best opportunity to product premium chardonnay fruit for another generation to come – and I reckon that’s pretty exciting.

Jason Conti