Vintage Report 2008

The 2008 Mollydooker vintage is a surprise! By a happy quirk of fate we made twice as much Boxer and Two Left Feet ($25) as last year, which is great news in these hard economic times. Everyone who has come to the winery and tasted them since we bottled them says they are the best we have ever made. Sparky describes them as “powerful, bright, multi-layered, dynamic and mind-blowing.” They are going to be just what is needed to bring happiness, comfort and joy without breaking the budget.

Our grapes (all grown according to the Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™) come from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Padthaway, enabling us to make wines with a full flavour profile. McLaren Vale has that incredible rich, lush, intensity which has made the district famous; the lifted aromatics of the Padthaway fruit add a pretty, elegant component to the wines, and the Langhorne Creek grapes have the special quality which comes from being grown near water in a slightly cooler climate. 

The 2008 vintage was interesting. We took possession of our new winery on December 21 2007, confident that we would be ready in time for harvest. Traditionally we harvest our one white on March 1 and start our reds mid March (we tend to leave the grapes on the vine for two weeks longer than most wineries, in order to get maximum colour and flavour, and very soft ripe tannins). But the heat wave changed all that. Two weeks at 40°C meant that all the McLaren Vale grapes ripened early. 

The early picking meant that most of the McLaren Vale fruit didn’t have enough time on the vine to develop the flavours that we look for in the wines. We judge them on Marquis Fruit Weight™, which is a measure of the percentage of your palate that is covered with the ‘velvety sensation of fruit’ before you experience any of the prickly sensations of structure. 

Every year, the wine made from the grapes from each block is kept separate, and every year it has to earn the right to be bottled in a particular grading. In order to qualify as a Lefty, the wine must be 65-70% Fruit Weight; Party wines 75-80%, Love wines 85-90% and Velvet Glove 95+%. Sarah says, “If it doesn’t reach a given quality level, we don’t bottle it, therefore Marquis Fruit Weight™ is like a quality guarantee on every bottle.” 

Sadly, in 2008, many of the blocks didn’t make their usual grading. We decided that we would make only Leftys, and sell the rest of the wine off as bulk wine. It was a hard decision, but our aim is always to make wine in the bottle which is worth two quality levels higher than the price point on the outside of the bottle, and we didn’t want to change that. 

The great news is that the Leftys are absolutely superb. Many of the grapes for the 2008 reds have come from the cooler vineyards and whilst they have the retained their particular flavour characteristics, they have extra richness because of the extra warmth. They have made stunning wines. 

And the 2009 Verdelho is unbelievable. As soon as it is poured the aromatics leap out of the glass and fill the room. An early herald of what is going to be a very exciting and high quality 2009 Vintage.