As we head into the crucial phase of flowering, a top up of the trace elements is sometimes required due to the specific demands of the vine within the relatively small window in which flowering occurs. Through our drip irrigation system we release a nutrient rich emulsion of seaweed and fish that is further charged with Biodynamic preparations 502 through to 507. But as like a multivitamin is no substitute for a healthy diet, fertilisers are not a substitute for inherently fertile and healthy soils.
One of the main reasons for choosing our vineyard site is the rich red volcanic soils that now give our vines and their roots unhindered access to a wealth of primary nutrients. Since then we have made further gains over the years with our cessation of all herbicides, which in turn has seen an eventual return of native grasses and a phenomenal increase in organic matter which now teems with life. We’ll show a photo of that soon!
Currently in the winery we are about to place our oak order for the 2012 vintage, securing our selected barrels and ensuring that they have adequate time to arrive from France.
The above photo illustrates our oak matrix and the myriad of elements that make up the decision making process.
To make it more interesting, we have to take a educated guess as to how much fruit we think we’ll have to determine how much oak we need. This scenario is painted with broad brush strokes as the vines are only just beginning flowering/fruit-set and from there harvest is still 3-4 months away at least, so our outlook is formed via a best case scenario tempered by crucial past experience.
Once we have determined how much new oak we require, our attention then turns to exactly what oak that is. That’s where the more complicated decisions begin…
To help guide these decisions we have historical data that has been accumulated over several vintages, with the wine from each barrel being scored in a blind tasting around one year into maturation. This approach ensures judgement by pure performance and clonal compatibility rather than by brand or preceding reputations.
Ultimately though our primary mantra of ‘site expression’ gets louder in our minds each vintage. This means we want the presence of our fruit to be foremost and for oak and other elements to be in a supportive role only. Some may construe this to mean oak is not important, but the ‘less is more’ approach only makes the oak decisions more critical!
Now that we have seen off (most of) the frosts which can lay waste to tender buds and/or shoots, our next major phase is flowering and fruit set. This is one of the most important windows in the growing season as the rate of success literally dictates the total crop potential for that season. At this point our bunches are yet to flower and are about two to four weeks away from commencing. The photo on the left was as of last Saturday (12/11/11) and the photo on the right is archival and for illustration of where were headed.
The most important factor for this phase is unsurprisingly, the weather. Stable weather patterns in the form of warm, breezy days are ideal as the grape flowers are fragile and are susceptible to cold weather, rain, hail or high wind. These factors either independently or in unison can see a reduction in crop level or at worst, see it decimated. An example of this reduction was the 2009 vintage, with heavy rain at flowering seeing a 60% loss in crop. This didn’t impact on the quality of the harvest just it’s quantity, but it’s hard to digest when all you can do is look on. Nature is both creator and destroyer and will always dictate the ultimate terms of our trade. Wisdom suggests that we put all our efforts into what we can control and accept what we cannot. That’s grow business!
As you may be aware the Macedon Ranges Budburst festival is on this coming weekend, where the cellars open their doors and arms to welcome you to what our region has to offer. Curly Flat is no exception to this and like the duality of smoke and fire, where there’s great wine there’s fine food. To celebrate that spectacular union Saturday (12th November) will see chef Emma Chapple of Kyneton Bistro Star Anise utilising Vintage Hall to provide all comers with a seasonal menu of sensory delights from 11.30am to 4pm and of course Curly Flat and Williams Crossing wines will be available by the glass. Please call us on 5429 1956 for any queries or bookings.
Come Sunday we have another very special guest and friend of Curly Flat, Andrew McConnell (and his exceptional staff!) returning to us for his fifth time to effortlessly remind us of his refined yet relaxed definition of a ‘long lunch’. This event unsurprisingly sold out very quickly, so to those seeking culinary comfort on Sunday again from 11.30am to 4pm, Emma Chapple will be serving up a range of light food options in the winery, like for example Rare roast beef, smoky tomato relish and rocket baguettes…
All in all it will be a weekend of great food and wine, which of course is always a celebration in itself!