CAPE MENTELLE - Shiraz 2004Fine Australian Wine
A near perfect vintage marred only by a slight drop in yield.
Lush ripe plump-prunes; densely packed with loads of fruit laced with spice. Lucious palate, supple and harmonious structure with a complex flavour range from sweet to savoury.
Shiraz is mainly sourced from our Wallcliffe and Trinders vineyards near the winery, planted respectively 26 and 13 years ago, grown on gravel laterite soils derived from weathered granite with a gravel-clay sub-soil. The vines are predominately vertically trained and cane pruned. A portion of the vineyard is also trained by both the Scott Henry and TK2 method to help control the vigorous nature of the variety in certain parts of the vineyard. A small amount of Shiraz is also sourced from the McHenry and Darnell vineyards planted respectively 7 kilometres west and 20 kilometres east of Margaret River, both on the banks of the Margaret River. Here the soils are a free draining, alluvial based soil type with a sheltered northerly aspect, the vines are also cane pruned with the canopy trained vertically. Shoot and leaf removal is employed during the course of the season on all vines. The Karri Park vineyard is a new addition to the blend and offers fruit exhibiting intense peppery flavours. This vineyard is located on coastal sands, in the southern part of the cape and is grown in a similar fashion to the other vineyards we source from.
Budburst got off to a really early start after above average temperatures and below average rainfall between June-August, However September and October were quiet wet, windy and cold which slowed down shoot growth and had an awful effect on flowering. By November the vines regained their vigour with warming temperatures. With soil moisture depleted by the end of December, some supplementary irrigation was applied to keep the vines from stress but not enough for further shoot growth. Vines reveled in these conditions and the promise of another fine vintage seemed assured, assisted by judicious shoot removal and canopy management during December to February. Harvest commenced a week or so later than usual for most vineyards. We found grape flavours were highly aromatic this year with higher than normal acid levels. This was due, no doubt to an unusually mild December to March period and the lower than average yields, due to the poor flowering and fruit set in spring. Rainfall was scarce right up until the middle to late part of April. The rain of course had no effect on the whites as all white vineyards were harvested by the end of March. An abundance of Marri blossom this season kept the silvereyes (a bird with a voracious appetite for sweet things) well fed with nectar, hence left the grapes alone.
Harvested over a ten day period from the 4th April to the 15th April in excellent weather and just before the first autumn rains. Sugar levels ranged from 23.5 brix to 25.9 brix and acids levels ranged between 5.6 and 7.2 grams per litre. The mild conditions resulted in vibrant fruit flavours and more spice characters than seen in warmer years. Yields were quite moderate ranging between 5.2 and 7.3 tonnes per hectare, enhancing flavour concentration.
About 20% of the fruit is hand-picked and conveyed to the fermenters as whole bunches with the balance machine harvested and crushed on top of the bunches. Fermentation proceeds rapidly with the ferment warmed to 32C to achieve a fast initial maceration. On the 7th day the wine is drained off and the skins gently pressed with hard pressing kept separate. Malo-lactic fermentation follows quickly in large vats after which the wine undergoes a series of rackings. The wine was aged mostly in a combination of French and American oak barrels of which 30% was new; the balance was aged in large oak vats. Oak is used so it plays a subservient role to fruit flavours. Blending and bottling took place in October 2003.