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Monthly Report - March 2012


Teroldego fermenting …


An excellent crop of Teroldego was hand-picked and delivered to the winery on the morning of the 26th March – 4 days earlier than last year which can be directly related to the warmth of the vintage.  Much to our surprise the sugar levels (which equate to alcohol levels), and acid levels managed to hold steady over the last two weeks of vintage and the flavours of the grapes duly arrived and have now been preserved we hope in the fermenting tank.


I sat down with Clive and Kate and tasted the still fermenting wine to see what flavours are to the fore.  Even after only 3-4 days of fermenting the deep purple red colour is already in the glass, and the aroma is of heady morello cherries.  The taste was sweet with all the sugar still to ferment out but a layer of boysenberry and honeyed allspice could be easily picked out.  The wine is looking good – and I’ll have a look at it post fement as well and give you all a run down on the 2010 wines which have just had their first birthday as I do some barrel selections and checking post racking.


The vineyard looks a bit tired and stressed as it starts to wind back on its growing season.  I have not over watered even though the weather has been warm as I was not taking most of the fruit off this year, so I wanted to put the vines under a bit of stress to hopefully drought proof them into the future.  I would not have done this if we were taking the fruit for wine – but this year has provided that opportunity.  A few days of cleaning up the base and crown of the vines has meant it is slowly coming back to how the vineyard should look, but this will be ongoing until I start pruning proper in June.


Again this month I spent time abroad – a touch more remote this time up near the corner of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Senegal.  Highly enjoyable in such a remote spot, but you do wish for some running water and a cool room or fridge after a few days as it was very hot as they move towards their break of season.

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Truck Rollover - Wendou M'bourou, Guinea

En Primeur…


From 2-6 April 2012, Bordeaux will have an influx of 1000’s of journalists, wine critics, and wine buyers who will be attending the En Primeur campaign held each year ~6 months after the previous year’s vintage.  For those not fully up with the process known as En Primeur – it is an event where historically merchants could buy wine from the Chateaux of Bordeaux, and at the same time test the quality of the most recent vintage.  It is recognized as an old tradition, but this really is not the case with the En Primeur campaign that we see today, having only begun in the 1970’s.


The character of the En Primeur campaign today is also the wine critic’s “calling” of the vintage.  This has gained utmost importance as these pronouncements come out before the Chateaux set their pricing for their wines.  It is financially huge, as positive reviews mean large dollars to all the wineries who receive them, and if the vintage is called a success all Chateaux can ride their prices on the back of this sentiment.

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2010 En Primeur in action

This year’s En Primeur campaign will be an interesting one to all involved as it comes after stratospheric pricing of the past 2010 vintage, which was much higher than the very highly priced 2009 vintage.  To buy highly regarded Bordeaux today you need to be extremely wealthy and as such the relevance of the En Primeurs has been lost a bit as the “bargains” of years gone past are not as common.  It would be fun to attend an En Primeur campaign, but really tasting so many half-finished wines (and yes folks, many wines are allegedly “trickesed” up for the event), it really does not have that spark that would make it a bucket list event.


So why am I talking on about an event in faraway Bordeaux in which I have only a passing interest in?  Well because it is a concept that could suit Margaret River - if only I or like-minded individuals had the time to get it up and running.


Currently promotion of Margaret River wines by our wine association is via extremely common structural events – the wine show in November, some “In City” tasting events, and a “festival” held at Leeuwin Estate.  Almost every one of these events has just merged into the background, as every other wine region has effectively the same things going on.  There is no point of difference, there is no imagination, and therefore there is really no point - as speaking to winners of the wine show trophies, they often sell nothing on the back of a one day press release, and those at the festival and in-city tastings move very little for all the expense.  So we pay twice – once for fees and once more to support one or more of the events.


There have been other regions in the world that have tried En Primeur campaigns in a similar vein to the Bordelaise, but most have failed to go through with it.  Some individual wineries offer pre-release purchases – but that is not impacting on a regional scale and as such are not providing a media vehicle for their region.


So why would you consider an En Primeur campaign in Margaret River? For two reasons:

  1. Margaret River is the closest Southern Hemisphere equivalent to Bordeaux.  No region south of the equator makes better bordelaise style wines.

  2. Point 1 above could be recognized and promoted.


It is a simple concept, but unlike the Bordeaux event where 6 month old unfinished wines are presented, we could provide finished 18 month old red wines and newly released 6 month old white wines.  All wines would solely be from grape varieties that are allowed within the Bordeaux Appellations.  Think of the interest, think of the press mileage that could be gained in putting your region in direct counterpoint to one of the finest in the world without the inference of “better than”.  Any wine writer or critic could then have the pleasure of having all the wines made available to them in 4-5 centrally located tasting rooms, as well as any wine lover who would pay to attend.  Who would be the first to call the vintage? Who would be the first to call the “wine” of the vintage?


As soon as my work load reduces I am going to start contacting all the wineries in the region and ask them the simple question, “Would you be interested?”.  If we continue to sit on our hands the moment will be lost, Margaret River will just be a tourist destination with added vines that may come back into fashion if the Australian Dollar will ever reduce.  It would seem a shame to not make a statement, to not be bold, so let us see what happens next…


Dry as a ...


Any Australian could add to the title of the weather report this month with something to do with a dingo or drovers dog, and yes it has been dry – so dry in fact that the 0.1mm recording we got, I nearly discarded without noticing. The temperatures noticeably reduced as the month wore on, and it is quite fresh in the evenings and early mornings now which makes it very pleasant indeed.


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


March 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          27.5°C

Daily Max recorded            36.4°C


Avg Minimum Temp           15.1°C               

Daily Min recorded             10.2°C


Rainfall:                               4.1mm

The maximum and minimum temperature ranges are significantly lower than last year, and this brings the January / February combined maximums to be about hot to very hot.  Rainfall was low in both months and this is expected out here in Margaret River.

March 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          30.0°C

Daily Max recorded            36.0°C

Avg Minimum Temp           16.5°C

Daily Min recorded             12.5°C


Rainfall:                              0.4mm


Autumn begins …


It is fine and it is warm at the start of March, and we all hope that the weather continues to be clear and sunny with little rainfall, as well as a gradually dropping mercury level.  The Teroldego will be safely picked by the end of March and I will record Clive’s first impression of the grapes in next month’s report.  I have a fortnight back in Africa for work, so I am hoping that goes well and I return able to help with the vintage.  I hope all who read this are well and enjoying the start of autumn and I will see you next month.

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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