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Monthly Report - July 2012


Under the cupboard …


Well sometimes you just find things and it proves to be a bit of a winner.  While doing the end of year checks and balances, up popped a pallet of 2007 Allouran that had not been labeled and missed by our storage provider and in our haste to avoid charges we offered them out to the mailing list – and what a fantastic response!  Now we have successfully posted them all out (barring a breakage or two, thanks Auspost) and have a much larger mailing list and a lot more friends judging by the happy emails we are now receiving.  Totally excellent – nothing makes us happier than knowing your wine is being drunk and enjoyed.  So cheers to all of you who basically, “got lucky”.


I am late with this month’s report – woeful I know – but by golly I have been busy and it has just started raining outside on a Sunday afternoon and I thought it is time to put down the loppers and the secateurs and get something out to you all.  July, though a couple of weeks back now was a month of two halves – the first two weeks was basically pruning Shiraz, with the last two weeks working out of the very wet Philippines.  I did squeeze a trip into Hong Kong to get some new glasses, check out the wine scene, and to pick up some new clothes and the like which I have conveniently forgotten to buy over the past two years.  I do like Hong Kong, easy to get around, great food, vibrant street life – but by golly you do get awfully sick of the constant barrage of “brands”.  Honestly, I have no interest in owning a Rolex watch or a Louis Vuitton bag as there is “nothing” exclusive about these products anymore in my view, except the price.  They may be well made but I could not count how many times I saw both of these products (and trillions exactly like them) for sale and it made me just wonder how much of this stuff is made now??  Not to worry, your trusty vigneron managed to avoid buying anything more expensive than some M&S trousers and street vendor underpants – I know where I sit in the world.

201207_Hong Kong - Garden scene.jpg

Hong Kong

So in effect the vineyard has had half a haircut – with the balance to come during August and the start of September.  This is the latest I have ever been with the pruning – a feature of the amount of consulting work I am now responsible for and the location of same jobs.  Not to panic, I have some help in August and a month predominantly working from home so all should come together and get me looking beyond the screen of my lap top.



As I have been doing this report for about 7 years now, I am starting to lag on a topic discussion point or two.  I have wandered far and wide with some topics getting me into a power of trouble and others with a heap of support and bouquets.  Funnily enough the most read topic I have ever written about is on soil profiles in vineyards – I am sure there a heap of grateful students out there who have massively plagiarised me in a last minute rush to complete their paper on the topic (judging by the large number of ‘edu’ provider hits that correspond with the increase of traffic).

This month I was stumped.  I thought of Hong Kong wine scene as a topic but really it is this – How much does it cost?  Are you famous?  Nothing else really matters – it is a bit like wine newbies in a way, but with a Chinese twist where they will happily shell out IF they get some karmic return, otherwise it is just a wine please.  A difficult place to self-promote in, but with so much money in one little place you can see why everyone’s eyes light up like glow sticks at a Christmas Carol night.  But checking in on Winefront there was a note put up by Mike Bennie on a Marlborough Pinot Noir that highlighted the companies rather liberal use of the word “authentic” in its promotional material and website, and this got me thinking “What does authentic stand for anymore?”

If I was a journo I would now quote the Macquarie’s definition of the word, and then talk in circles around this – well I am not and I will start by saying authentic is a dead word.  Why you ask?  Because I say that no-one cares about being authentic any more, they just care about perceived quality and price.  Authentic is an out-dated idea where quality was perceived to come from a specific maker or place – but in this day and age almost everything comes from somewhere else, and the maker is simply a brand, the only link to a product or design.  Authentic Levi Jeans?  Well yes, but made in Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, and India.  Are they still authentic?

In the connection to wine, you could use the word to give yourself some historical linkage like “authentic Bordeaux” or Barolo or whatever, but this is just pure silliness – historically wines were made poorly and only the best survived, so saying you are authentic implies that there is every chance your wine is a bretty soup of wine making faults – not quite the intention I am sure.  Then there is the use as a linkage to specifics like flavour, aroma, taste – “authentic pinot flavours etc” – again what a load of hooey.  There is no such thing, we have a spectrum of flavours that connect wine with varieties, but none of them are “authentic”, none were there at the start and got the whole thing going.  It is just such a nonsense word.  Also one little mercy is that authentic has not made it into the world of “natural” wine, as that could have caused all sorts of apoplexy throughout the first world.

I really cannot think of a positive spin on the word anymore unless you are a 19th Century furniture collector, or a Paul Newman sauce bottle.  I once attended a conference where the lead speaker was referred to as an “authentic Mine Geologist” – I died for the guy even though he sort of deserved it.  I am sure as little as 40 years ago this was a word that had positive power and meaning, but right now it has little to no value as our world has just moved on so quickly – to use it in a positive way highlights your age and background more than a photo does.

I aged a further year this month, and it is always good to have a good look at where you are at and determine where you are going.  One thing that struck me on this self-analysis is that I am running out of time to get everything done – that was a bit of an eye-opener but a reality that needs to be dealt with.  But one thing that has not changed is my level of scepticism, and when someone cough’s up the word “authentic” to promote some generic booze from a generic region, well there has to be consequences!!


Simply too dry ...


The weather has been far too dry, far too dry.  The south west corner of WA relies heavily on winter rainfall to recharge the groundwater and to get the streams and rivers flowing.  Without either we have problems, and this year appears to be one beset with problems as budburst will be early due to groundwater dropping quickly in early spring, and this put the ripening period into the very hot months and potentially stripping the fruit of the flavors we seek.  August may redeem the situation, but it will be difficult.


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


July 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.5°C

Daily Max recorded            20.4°C


Avg Minimum Temp             6.9°C               

Daily Min recorded               1.3°C


Rainfall:                               72.1mm

The maximum and minimum temperature ranges are similar to last year. Rainfall last year was a lot more than this year, even though it was still considered an average year.

July 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          16.3°C

Daily Max recorded            18.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp           7.9°C

Daily Min recorded             1.2°C


Rainfall:                              210.5mm


Pruning cracks on …


It will need to get done, pruning that is, so we have nothing more than to crack on and do it.  August needs to be a bit wetter so as to top up the dam as well as the groundwater table, which should bring the seasons back into alignment.  Not much else to say really, except get it done Mark.

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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