Vintage started in the Swan slightly earlier than normal with warm weather in the early part of summer giving a flying start to the growing season. We experienced excellent conditions in and around the lead up to harvest with some rain at the right time and then plenty of warm weather after verasion. Crop levels were on the lighter side which gave us strong flavoured fruit and the other noticeable factor this year was the higher natural acid levels in all varieties. Our P.h. levels were really surprising and very little adjustment was needed for the wines.
Our Chardonnay was harvested in late January. The Swan Chardonnay is some of the best we’ve seen and surprised us with its fruit flavour, finesse and perfect acid levels. Highlights again were the Chenin parcels. We processed two batches of beautiful grapes in the first week of February and the resulting wine is very exciting. The finished wine shows true character with nice fresh apple and stone fruit notes evident at this early stage.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon was picked in the last week of January. This fruit has been put exclusively into our 2021 Cabernet Rose’. The wine opens up with an attractive red berry note with a touch of spice; it has a beautiful light to medium salmon colour when made from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Malbec and Petit Verdot are both leading the way in our Swan red wine vineyard. Our Malbec was harvested in early February and after five days of fermentation on skins, the wine was pressed off and the remainder of fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tank. The Petit Verdot was harvested 11 days later and is now also waiting transferring into oak casks, where out reds generally age for around 12 months. Petit Verdot is a variety very well suited to the region and shows violet floral notes, spicy hints and the hallmark rich intense colour synonymous with the variety.
Rounding out our Swan vineyard was the production of some fortified Verdelho. The grapes were harvested mid-March with intense ripeness. The grapes were almost raisin like. After harvest the fruit is put through the crusher/de-stemmer and then processed through a mincer which really breaks open the berries, but is designed to not damage the seeds thus avoiding any bitter character from broken seed. The juice at 22 beaume is allowed to slowly ferment and is then pressed off after about five days on skins and is fortified with the addition of SVR spirit. The wine is now sitting at around 17.5% alcohol and is around 14 beaume of residual sugar. It is lovely and rich. The wine has been transferred to oak where it will now age for anywhere up to 20 years and perhaps longer.
Moving south to Manjimup where we commenced picking in early April. The first fruit harvested was a beautiful parcel of Pinot Noir. The finished wine shows lovely cherry hints, delicate tannin structure and a wonderful length of flavour. We utilise a number of clones in the Manjimup vineyard which we believe results in a wonderfully balanced and structured fruit driven Pinot style.
Next was out Cabernet Sauvignon. This year’s fruit was as good as we have seen for some time and the resulting wine exhibits great Cabernet character with intense black fruit character, fruit sweetness and ideal acid balance.
Last to be picked was out Shiraz. The vintage at Manjimup was difficult with some late rain so we expected some loss of this variety to botrytis. Despite this we were able to engage experienced pickers to sort through and only harvest the perfect bunches to be processed. Thankfully their diligence paid off and we were able to harvest enough by hand picking and the result is a wine with all the hallmarks of cool climate shiraz. Full bodied, hints of smoke, dark fruit and white pepper.
So with vintage over we turn our attention to refining the wines and take advantage of any spare time to catch up on some jobs around the winery and reflect over the hard work that has been put in since October last year. We are looking forward to bottling some of the years wine later in the year, around November.