Soils held moderate moisture levels from winter in the lead up to the 2009 vintage. Some early irrigation was required to compensate for ongoing drought conditions. Vine canopies had moderate shoot growth with good internode spacing, negating any requirement for summer trimming. The vineyard was disease free and anticipated crop levels derived from bunch counts were below average. Berry set was variable throughout the district; generally resulting in open bunches with lower weights.
We had built up soil moisture levels in mid January to ensure the vines were not stressed during the critical period of veraison, when many of the important precursors for quality wine are formed in the berry. The vine canopies had also been carefully managed to provide some dappled shade to the fruit zone. When very hot weather was predicted our ability to provide supplementary drip irrigation rapidly to the vineyards, to further increase the availability of water and the speed with which the vines could take it up, allowed damage from the extremely hot conditions in late January to be minimized in the Shingleback vineyards. Fruit that was heat damaged shriveled and dried cleanly, reducing further the already low yields.
Harvest commenced with Chardonnay a week or two earlier than anticipated on the 4th of February. Sugar and acid levels at harvest were ideal as flavours developed early in the fruit. In our vineyards the heat also resulted in earlier flavour development in the reds and delayed sugar accumulation, which allowed an early start to the red harvest. Picking of Shiraz began on the 20th of February. The end result has been aromatic and balanced red wines, with fruit power and generally lower alcohol levels.
After the heat of late January & early February the weather was ideal allowing vines to recover and giving winemakers the luxury of little outside pressure. Lower yields also allowed extended time in fermenters on skins, as there was reduced demand on winery facilities. There was time for winemakers to maximize the potential of the fruit from the vineyard and to enjoy the crafting of the wines.
Picking of Grenache and the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon was completed in the last week of March. There were no yeast fermentation problems during the vintage and malolactic ferments were all but complete at the end of April, well ahead of schedule.
Every vineyard has its own story but ours in 2009 is extremely positive. Dedicated work from all members of the Shingleback team resulted in exceptional batches of wine that after maturation and blending will bring a smile to the lips they pass.