Viticulture Vintage Report – Big Pete, Russ E, Marcella and Leigh
We had above average rainfall in Winter and Autumn, which gave us an exciting start to the vintage, because it allowed the soil to store enough moisture to set up the vines with healthy canopies. Bud burst started in late August - this is one of the pretty times of the year, the vines look like a bunch of bridesmaids with garlands in their hair.
We check each block twice a week, getting out early before the heat of the day, brushing away giant spiders which love to spin their webs between the rows. We are checking that the vines are growing fast enough, and in particular are watching for flowering, as it is essential to water the vines then, so as to get an even fruit set, and to make sure that the buds which are being laid down for the next vintage (18 months away) will be fruitful.
In December we turned the water off, and the vines went into transition and stopped growing canopy and started to concentrate on their fruit (check out Sparky’s video). This is the time of year that the snakes come out, the protective gaiters go on, and we are very careful!
In January, all the blocks were at the bottom of transition - the growing tips and laterals were burned off, the canopy couldn’t grow any more, and the vines were looking scarily limp and pathetic. We turned the water back on, and the magic that has us spellbound every year, happened. The vines straightened up, the leaves started to track the sun, the canopy started to make carbohydrates and to store them in the frame of the vine, the grapes plumped out, the vines started to mature and ripen the fruit, the grapes went through veraison (colour change) and the sugar and flavour levels went up. From that time on we were blessed with perfect ripening weather.
This is our favourite time of year. We collect bunches of grapes from each of the blocks, then sit under the gum trees with Sparky (and anyone who happens to be visiting, so you are always welcome to come and join us), hand crushing the grapes and testing the juices. In 2010, colour, flavour and fruit weights increased each half week, right on plan. It was a dream year!
The first harvest was on the 15th of March, a McLaren Vale Shiraz. The final block picked was Mollydooker Long Gully Road Cabernet on the 28th of April. In between, we successfully completed over 70 individual harvests, checking every bin for cleanliness, riding shotgun on the harvesters, checking that each row was harvested at the peak of its potential. Fantastic results were achieved over every block. We think that 2010 is easily our best vintage yet.
Everyone says that 90% of the success of the quality of the wine comes from the vineyards - and who are we to disagree? It is our pride and joy to hand over exceptional quality fruit to AJ (winemaking), Russ T (winery) and Tom (cellar) and their teams, and they have the difficult task of achieving the remaining 10%. We think they have done a phenomenal job. Can’t wait for you to taste the wines and let us know what you think.
Winery Vintage Report – AJ, Pete T, Matt and Candice
Early in the life of the wines this year, from fermentation, each batch showed good varietal characteristics and a great range of flavours. The ferments behaved themselves well which meant we had good control and as it’s the only time we can extract tannins from the skins, the velvety structure of the wines got off to a great start. If anything, fermentation went too well, so we had to run our ferments cooler than we have in the past, dropping to 9OC quite often and even as low as 6OC for a couple of strong ferments. All together we had 83 individual ferments, frequently dividing our blocks up into sub sections to try to isolate the higher quality parcels, striving to find our best batch.
Maturation of the wines went well, in fact that seems to be the theme for 2010, everything seemed to go to plan, from the vineyards to the bottle, the plan came together perfectly. Most of the maturation work was in doing the same thing we always do, specifying specific oak profiles to each batch (and with the 83 ferments, this kept us busy) but always tasting to see if there can be any improvements to a wine. Most of the tough decisions came when it was time for blending. With solid Fruit Weights across the board, the wines were wanting to jump up a quality level, resulting in Fruit Weights of the final blends clearly towards the top end for each label.
2011 The Violinist
These grapes are usually the first ones that come into the winery, and the first real reminder that it’s vintage, getting me out of bed & meeting the grapes as they come into the winery about 5am, not that I should complain, Big Pete is out in the vineyard for the start of the harvest from about 1am to ensure the cold temperatures help retain the freshness in the grapes. This year we had a good friend, Roly from Switzerland come in and see the whites come into the winery which really took me back to the basics. Going through the processes and showing him the juice samples got me really excited to share it with him, it usually takes months for us to share the Verdelho with everyone when we’ve bottled it.
This vintage turned out to be a cracker, having to patiently wait for the grapes to be ready while there was possible rain forecast, the tough call to say “no – the grapes need a few more days” paid off, the rain held off and the grapes ripened showing beautiful fruit salad, tropical peach and great intensity. In the winery, the wines fermented well and putting 1/3 to oak to finish the ferment gives a layer of creaminess which shows seamless balance with the tropical, peach focussed fruit characters. I’d assume you’ve finished your 2010 Violinists, so if you’ve been hanging out for this, it’s worth the wait.
2010 The Scooter
This is a fun wine, generous fruit that you don’t find in many Merlots. Pete loves the aromatics and complexity of this wine, making it a stand out Merlot.
Deep violet in colour, The Scooter offers a perfumed nose, intense with red fruits, cherries and plum. The rich fruit is followed by layers of spice, chocolate and wonderful fragrant oak. This wine is well balanced, round and giving, showing generous ripe fruit and soft tannins producing an outstanding Australian Merlot.
2010 Maitre D’
This is a great ‘go to’ wine, the varietal Cab flavours and typical Mollydooker power makes this a wine we all love.
Dark cherry red, with a deep violet hue, this is an incredibly aromatic varietal cabernet. Showing great intensity with bright berry fruits and mashed raspberry, together with liquorice spice and espresso coffee. The palate is vibrant and fresh, building with layers of fruit, toasty oak and fine Cabernet tannins. It finishes with hints of anise spice, dark cocoa and cassis fruit.
2010 Two Left Feet
I call this one a fence sitter’s wine, not in a bad way (I’d have to call myself a bit of a fence sitter), but if you can’t decide, this has it all – the best of all worlds. I guess it doesn’t have any rules, we just put the best combination of Shiraz, Cabernet & Merlot together – so if you can’t choose, why not have it all? At least it creates a few constructive arguments, some of us fighting for a couple of percent of Cab, or Merlot, but Shiraz is usually the big winner making up a good chunk of this blend.
Deep crimson-purple, this wine brings together the best of these varieties – a big fruit impact, fine tannin structure, fresh acidity and silky texture. This is a seamless wine showing incredible depth and amazing length. With an array of fruit, blackcurrant, berries and plum accompanied by lifted oak, vanilla and warm spice this wine is a journey not to be missed. Two Left Feet is rich and generous, a harmonious blend with a persistent finish.
2010 The Boxer
The Boxer - my (AJ here) favourite wine (and yes, I have more than one favourite wine, as you’ll see when you get to the Velvet Glove). It has been my favourite since the first vintage, probably as soon as I saw the label – quite corny but a wine to me is just meant to be fun. I love the fun label, the wine tastes like it looks – it really packs a punch.
Very deep black-crimson, The Boxer shows a full spectrum of flavours from fresh berries and plum, to fig and blackberry jam, surrounded by cinnamon spice, liquorice, and lovely warm oak with hints of cigar box and tobacco. Soft luscious palate-coating fruit with incredible depth, combined with creamy chocolate oak layers producing a complex wine with amazing power.
Candice says: “I just love the fruit intensity of this wine, it’s incredible, but still shows such finesse. Because of its amazing varietal Cabernet flavour - because it’s a Cabernet, it is what it is, simple as that.”
Dark garnet-purple in colour, Gigglepot is distinctly Cabernet with serious intensity. The nose displays blackcurrant, fresh plum and blackberry fruits, with hints of dried bay leaf, clove and loads of spice. Greatly concentrated, with fine integrated tannins and lively acidity it finishes with lingering cassis, soft vanilla and cedar oak.
2010 Blue Eyed Boy
When asked what my favourite Mollydooker is, I really struggle to answer. Blue Eyed Boy is one of many reasons I struggle – I love this wine, I feel like I have a personal relationship with it, I guess I get to know it quite well (I’d hate to count up the amount of times I taste it even before it hits the bottle). Year after year it packs in so much smooth chocolate and coffee, let’s just say it’s one of my favourites.
Black crimson in colour, this wine leaps from the glass with powerful aromatics of blueberries, ripe sweet fruit, liquorice and undertones of chocolate biscuit while you’re drinking a glass of milk. The seductive texture is laced with fresh fruit flavours, coffee, smooth chocolate and warm spice - a full bodied Shiraz with an endless depth of fruit.
2010 Enchanted Path
This is Matt’s favourite wine, he says he loves the power and intensity of the wine, and that it doesn’t have the hollowness of some Cabernet based wines. He loves the regal Cabernet with the frivolity of the Shiraz (he also likes big words).
Dark opaque purple with ruby hue, this is a very powerful blend combining Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to create a wine with immense fruit weight and uninhibited length. Varietal Cabernet notes dance among the vibrant fruit profile of the Shiraz presenting blackberry fruit, cassis, lifted anise spice with underlying plum jam and tar. The palate offers a rich explosion of fruit, toasty oak, cedar notes, and layers of spice, with fine grain tannins and endless length.
2010 Carnival of Love
If ever a wine was designed for sharing this is it, it is so much fun, powerful, elegant, smooth, rich, generous – this wine is why wine tasting wheels were invented, so many ways to describe it. Just get into it, share it (or not), you won’t have any trouble getting the carnival off and running with this one.
Dark opaque violet with deep crimson hue, this wine bursts from the glass with a dense melange of berry fruits, dark plum, liquorice, and fragrant spice. The palate displays layers of sweet fruit with creamy mocha oak, black pepper hints and superbly balanced tannins, seeming to last for an eternity.
2010 Velvet Glove
Every day I come to work, I focus on treating every batch of wine as though it’s Velvet Glove, but at the end of the day, this is truly a rare wine and I have to be honest, it is my favourite. It gives me inspiration to try to make each and every wine like this, something to strive for. I think the strongest moment I’ve seen in what this wine means, came when we were blending it. Looking at potential blends to make this wine, there was one block that was initially separated into four subsections (Gateway Block 2) and made separately from receiving the grapes to committing to the blends. Three of these subsections made it into Velvet Glove (portions A, B and D). That’s not what I’m trying to get to. They were quite obviously stand outs and actually made the decision quite easy. The uncompromising part of my story is the batch called Gateway 2 (portion C). This was SO close to grading, and going over a few of the last tasting notes, it was judged by our winemaking team to be qualifying in 11 out of 13 scores in the last couple of tastings before we did the final blending tasting. Basically 11 out of 13 doesn’t really describe Velvet Glove very well. The blending tasting picked this out and although the Fruit Weight was graded at 94.5%, it didn’t meet the required 95% to make the cut. (But… great news! Gateway Block 2 portion C helped 2010 Carnival of Love become one of the best Carnival of Loves that we have made.)
These are a couple of tasting notes we came up with for the Velvet Glove, but words really can’t do this wine justice, so please give my poor English a break and grab a bottle, open it and taste it ya self. Dark black violet in colour, this wine has an intensely spiced nose with fruit aromas of fresh raspberry, plum and blueberry with an edge of tar, mocha and blackberry jam extending the complexity. The palate shows amazing purity of fruit with delicate flavours, fine oak tannins and creamy oak. Simply unique, it has the ability to coat your entire mouth with the softest of textures yet unleashes such an intense and amazing array of fruit, completely rich and voluptuous with undeniable elegance. A wine that truly deserves its name, coating your tongue like a Velvet Glove.