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Monthly Report - October 2009

And the vines burst forth …


What a busy month of growth we have had here at Blue Poles Vineyard.  With it being such a cool start to spring with a very cold September, all the vines were just biding their time waiting for the first warmth of the new vintage.  Well the weather did not disappoint with some lovely warm spring days drying out the top layer of the soil and warming the ground – the vines simply leapt out of their dormancy and startled us with their vigor.  With such a growth spurt it does tend to ensure the vines go through their growing stages quite evenly and this would be a blessing after last year where the vines had a huge range of growth stages running at one time in any one variety.


Spraying has commenced with two simple protective sprays out and to date the vines look nice and clean.  Lots of growth also means lots of unwanted growth, so the clearing of vines along the trunk is completed quickly prior to the slower job of reducing all the excess growth on the cordon.  Lots of red clover has sprung up in the mid rows with the spreading of the seed during winter, and hopefully lots of juicy nitrogen will be made available to the vines over the coming weeks, and eventually years.

200910_View over vineyard 1009.jpg

Overlooking the top of the merlot block with the Blue Poles house in the distance

The written word…


One of the more difficult jobs that you could ever do is to describe to someone else the taste or smell of a wine you have drunk – thus a tasting note on any wine is a bit of poetry when completed well, and pretty irrelevant if it is not.  I was prompted to talk about this aspect of wine from discussions between wine “bloggers” who are starting to look more deeply into this issue of presenting tasting notes that “truly” reflect a wine – even though many wines fail to inspire more than the perfunctory listing of flavors and tastes.


It is an interesting issue as more people are quick to Google a tasting note while searching out a wine for purchase, and are becoming more influenced by this more accessible information.  Gone are the days where you simply bought the true and trusty, the plethora of choices gives those with access to online tasting notes and scores that much more of a leg up in this day and age.  But are they a “fair” representation of the wines that were tasted?


To test this I have compiled 4 internet based tasting notes of our 2007 Blue Poles Reserve Merlot and ones that come up on a Google search.  The wine however is a very difficult wine to pin down in the form of a tasting note, and we are always intrigued to see how it was portrayed.  Have a look to try and see where the similarities are and where they diverge:


Campbell Mattinson – 2 April 2009

This is released next month and if you have any bent for classically-styled merlot, you would be doing well to grab yourself some of this.

Great to smell, great to drink, great to contemplate what it’s going to become. It has concentration of mulberried, blackberried flavour but really that’s not its game.  It is ‘thing’ is structure, a minerally strut of tannin, tobacco-like edges and perfect form in the mouth.  It drinks well the minute you open it, and even better a day later.  There are some eucalypt-y notes and various, subtle, complexing notes - but there’s no need to list or count them.  The wine is, simply, excellent. I don’t even like merlot but I’ll be buying some of this.

Rated : 94 Points
Alcohol : 14%
Price : $35
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2012 - 2020



Julian Coldrey – 7 August 2009


The third of three recent Merlots and, to jump to the end, this wine elicits a big "wow" from me.  If you like good Merlot, good red wine, or good things generally, put in your order.


We're not about summary judgement here at Full Pour, though, so now comes the task of describing the wine, which is considerably more difficult than simply recommending it.  The first thing to note is it's very young but, unlike the 2007 Unison Merlot is drinking very well right now.  A bit tight on opening, the aroma has melted over the course of an hour to reveal gorgeous red and black berries, tobacco leaf, some classy cedar oak, and general savouriness, all expressed within a cleanly articulated structure that draws the elements together in one repeatedly sniffable package. 


On the palate, the intensity of fruit becomes fully apparent, as does a structure of beautiful clarity.  Medium bodied, this wine starts subtly on entry, with mostly savoury notes (some sulphur-derived influences perhaps?) leading into a gradual crescendo of red and black berry fruit.  There is a range of other elements that participate in the flavour profile, many of a richly leafy character, and subtly vanillan oak plays a part too.  Although there are tannins aplenty, they don't unduly block the wine's expression, even at this early stage in its life.  On the after palate, the fruit character morphs into a decadent liqueur-like expression.  Very impressive finish.


One often reads descriptions of Merlot in terms of rich, soft fruitiness and a slight absence of structure.  Flip this on its head and you have something akin to this wine, which is all about precise fruit, firm structure and a sense of sophistication that transcends my poor attempt to transcribe the experience of drinking it. 



Jeremy Pringle – 17 August 2009


Margaret River, Walcliffe WA Screwcap 14% CD $35- Tasted 14-15/8/09


Ok, I have had two bottles of this now, and it's certainly able to be enjoyed at the moment, especially with a good decant.  But it is gonna sing in 10 years time I reckon.  And I think that's part of why it's tough to write it up now.  There are some obvious flavours and profiles to mention, but it's serious wine which is far more than the sum of its parts.  You can sip on it & contemplate it for hours (it invites you too) but ultimately it remains elusive.  Quite an intelligently charming wine in that way.

Let's just look at what the second day gave me. A lithe mouthfeel, and linear.  The red fruits are dominant and vibrant, held in check by an imposing and impressive structure with assertive tannins of excellent quality.  There are brambly notes and plum underneath with tobacco/coal/graphite alongside the red berries.  The quality of the French oak is clearly impeccable, as its use.  Lovely spice on the finish too.

Also, we seem to have suggestions of sundry dried-fruits and a even a little floral action at times, but they seem to me to be but suggestions, nothing more.  The touch of chocolate on the back palate is more present, but the harmony means none of these things are talking too loud.  I am trying as best I can to suggest that there is an underlying complexity to this wine.  Buy some; drink a bottle (or two) now, enjoy contemplating its future then hold back for as long as you are able. I think this is going to be a Merlot with a very long life.  At the moment you are enjoying its first articulate expressions which suggest a massive potential.  When that potential is realized (and it will be), you are going to have one hell of a great wine   95++



Dave Vino – 14 June 2009 (forum no longer available)

Vibrant garnet colour on swirling it, then becomes a brooding darker red when still, the light really plays on it. On the nose it has a sweet dark cherry aroma. Very soft on the palate, with a firm tannin that grips your mouth and a touch of greenness at the back of the palate. It’s a luscious mouth feel. Cherry and plum dominate the palate. Very good length, the unctuous nature of it makes it hang around like a good olive oil. With a bit of age (5 years+) I can see it becoming a decadent wine, but still a good drop to try now if you can overlook the tannins.

Best Aussie Merlot I’ve had to date? Yes easily. It doesn’t have the overt jammy flavours, lack of structure and very little length of the others I’ve tried, which consign them to the quaffer tag. Would I buy more? for sure at $35 a bottle I think it's a good buy. Screwcap.



Fortunately all appeared to have enjoyed the wine!  But their individual takes on the fruit aromas and the taste of the wine varied from author to author.  All indicated that they would like to see this wine with a bit of age on it, and I guess we would to, as we have built our wines for the long haul.  All of these tasters appear to have decanted the wine and let it open up over a few hours (and in a couple of cases a few days), and this implies they have taken care to see the best in the wine as well its potential faults.  The “style” of the wine can be clearly seen though in each and every note, as all mention the wines “structure” as being critical in the understanding of our Reserve Merlot – and by each taster “getting” this then we feel as if we have been heard over a crowded room, in itself a very pleasant feeling.


The idea that a tasting note (or point score), as definitive is not a realistic way of looking at a tasting note.  Tasting notes are similar to looking at a photo through someone else’s senses – wine is an evolving product and even when the same wine is drunk the following day, your mood, natural bottle variation, company, food, setting, hour of the day etc etc etc makes for a slightly different take on what is in the glass.  Some “photos” are filled with activity and energy that provides the viewer with lots to talk about, and some “photos” are of the corner of a brick house and really provide little inspiration – and this is part of the wide and varied world of wine we live in.


Every time I read a tasting note I always look for the way the author “feels” about the wine.  If this “feeling” is one of excitement, this gives me the information I need to step out and drink the wine with a heightened sense of anticipation as now I have a record of where this wine has travelled and I am now curious to see what is just around the corner…



A touch of warmth...


October has provided us with a lovely start to our growing year with lots of sunshine and low rainfall levels.  Clear warm days have led to slightly cooler nights and this has meant the vines have had an opportunity to regroup after such a wet and cool September.


The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:

October 2009:     

Avg Maximum Temp          19.7°C

Daily Max recorded            30.4°C


Avg Minimum Temp             9.8°C               

Daily Min recorded               4.8°C


Rainfall:                               20.1mm

The temperature ranges were very similar between 2008 and 2009, and these values were very much equivalent to the 20 year maximum and minimum averages for the region.  Very low rainfall in 2009 has provided a break in the weather and providing an opportunity for the vines to get some warmth into their roots.

October 2008:      

Avg Maximum Temp          19.8°C

Daily Max recorded            29.2°C

Avg Minimum Temp             10.2°C

Daily Min recorded               5.4°C


Rainfall:                              55.3mm


Thinning out the vines …


The vines will be continuing to extend their canes to the sky over the coming month and this means more work amongst the vines taking out the irrelevant growth.  We spend almost as much time thinning the canopy as we do pruning the vines, as we feel that by concentrating where the vine uses its growth, it will concentrate more heavily on keeping the lesser volume of fruit healthy.  At a guess I would have lifted two wires over the whole vineyard by the end of November as well as shoot thinned ~3 hectares of vines.  The slasher will also come out this month and feed the cuttings back into the mid-row and a couple more sprays will be placed out as well.  It is a busy month, but if you are in the neighbourhood and would like to try the wines please drop in, I may well do with a break!

As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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