23 May Jason’s 2021 Vintage Report
Like recent years, the vintage of 2021 kicked off at the end of January, which was on par, but certainly much earlier than say 10-15 years ago.
As always, we kept a vigilant eye on the weather, and once we discovered the Perth patterns were pretty much replicated a week later down south, we knew what we were dealing with for the remainder of the season.
Humidity, rain and all-round “troughy” and overcast conditions created a delicate dance around our picking schedule, but looking back, we faired okay — narrowly avoiding the rain at every turn.
The chenin blanc was the first variety to come off. It was picked early, which has resulted in a tight and crisper wine with dominant Granny Smith apple characters. Current vintage (2020).
In my opinion, this is how chenin blanc should be. Although it carries a light green hue, it is a much better wine, and in all honesty, I’m really pleased with how it’s come together; and it’s going to age beautifully too.
Next off the rank was the shiraz for our rose.
I can’t wait to release this wine. Lighter in colour, but definitely not lacking in flavour, it reminds me of the classic Provence styles that I really enjoy. We’ll be bottling the rose in coming weeks for its timely release in spring. Current vintage (2020).
And then there was the nerve-wracking wait for the chardonnay – a wine we take great pride in getting spot-on.
I might add that our current 2020 release is in very low supply, and rewardingly, it is drinking like a charm.
If you have any stock on hand, drink it now.
It’s a cracker of a wine, and I too will be putting some aside before it all sells out.
With humidity and rain events to work with, there was the added risk of botrytis pressure which was a concern in the Margaret River region.
We decided to pick the chardonnay earlier to avoid the risk of losing crops, however we were happy with the high quality of the fruit from our Miamup Road (pictured above) and the Grace and White vineyards a few kilometres away.
To add complexity to the wine, I used a combination of barrel and tank fermentation, different yeast strains and, as the acid was a little too “appley” for my liking, I encouraged some malolactic fermentation, to soften the palate. This is the first time I have actively encouraged malo to our chardonnay, but in other years it has occurred naturally, so I’m really excited to see where this wine will take us.
Our Margaret River sauvignon blanc was a sensational crop.
Bruce, our vineyard manager, did an incredible job of managing the vines which were again susceptible to botrytis, but in the end, the resultant fruit was in excellent condition and exhibiting true varietal flavours.
We are due to bottle this wine in about three weeks, and let’s see if we can collect Margaret River’s Best Sauvignon Blanc trophy for the second year running!
Our Mariginiup block shiraz (just north of Woodvale) also produced a small, but excellent crop this year.
Fruit from our old (50+ years) Mariginiup vines will be the base wine for the 2021 vintage which will be blended with Miamup Road estate fruit. It is currently maturing in high-grade American oak and I’m excited to release this wine in a few years’ time. Current vintage (2018).
The one variety that really impressed me this year was our Nero d’avola which is grown on our homestead property in residential Woodvale.
Talk about a self-sufficient variety!
Even during the uncertainty of our wet and humid summer, we just left the nero on the vine to look after itself, and seriously, the fruit was near-on perfect.
It held its colour and acidity beautifully, and along with ripe tannins, it was refreshing to have a variety we didn’t have to panic about. Current vintage (2019).
Our Margaret River malbec was another stand out and I personally think this is the best variety we grow on our Miamup Road vineyard.
Soft tannins and colour, hardly any adjustments and even with the rain, we just made sure we looked after it in the winery; it really did just hold its own with big juicy characters.
For our Margaret River muscat, I made a delicious, fortified style this year – the colour is magnificent – a real pink, ruby muscat.
Imagine pairing this wine with soft cheeses or a light dessert. This will be released as a young fortified.
Our Margaret River shiraz (to be blended with our Mariginiup fruit) came in beautifully ripe – very much in the Mariginiup style – ripe and plump.
Bruce, having worked with Dad and I for many decades, understands precisely what we aim for in this variety.
Margaret River purists would say that it’s “over-ripe”, but I like the plum and fruit cake characters as opposed to the white peppery traits that Margaret River shiraz’s are known for.
I’m pretty chuffed with this year’s pick actually.
Once again, Bruce did a commendable job with canopy management and botrytis issues which were really challenging to navigate, but the resultant fruit was in really great condition.
We also took a small quantity of pinot noir (just two barrels) this year which was delicately made using open top fermenters and pressed using our old basket press handed down from three generations – from my Nonno, to my Dad and consequently down to me. Current vintage (2020).
It’s a pleasure, and an honour to work with this iconic piece of machinery! (pictured below).
Margaret River cabernet sauvignon showed its resilience, and we were prepared to wait out the picking schedule, even though conditions had the potential to change quite dramatically.
We picked this variety in three small batches.
The first two exhibited the typical herbaceous Margaret River characters, and then we were hit with 50mm of rain, so the last batch was a little softer.
Due to this year’s softer tannins, we will probably make a 2021 cabernet malbec as opposed to a straight cabernet sauvignon. Current vintage (2018).
We are onto the last of our 2017 Margaret River cabernet malbec at the cellar door, which I can honestly say, with plenty of age under its belt, is drinking beautifully.
The following 2019 Margaret River cabernet malbec has great tannin structure – firmer, grippier and more obvious; this wine will reward with excellent ageing potential. A favourite for the winter months for sure, so keep an eye out for its release this year.
The 2020 Margaret River cabernet sauvignon however, is a ripper.
Currently in barrel, I can’t wait to show you this wine later in the year.
So, in summary, the 2021 vintage lasted around four months…a lot longer than most! It posed its challenges for sure, but it certainly wasn’t a write-off. Quite the opposite in fact.
All wines are showing their true varietal characteristics and I’m really looking forward to releasing many of them over the coming months.
We hand-pick all our fruit, and although this is not entirely cost effective these days, we wouldn’t have it any other way. The integrity and quality of our wines is a direct reflection of this time-honoured tradition which allows us to keep an eye on what goes in the bottle, and how we maintain our vineyard.
And so now my thoughts turn to wines ready for bottling…and the winemaking process carries on!
Thanks for reading.
Cheers for now…