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Monthly Report - August 2012


On the road once more …


I had a quick read of last year’s August report and I was sitting in Manila when I put that one together – well I am starting this report sitting in the Singapore Airlines lounge at midnight trying to think what I should be drinking to put me to sleep in an hour when I board.  It is a blessed relief though to know that I have got to this latest trip abroad with the pruning complete for another year and the vineyard in the process of getting its final touches before the start of another growing season (well, in fact it has started with some of the Merlot in the dry section up the top of the block already in budburst).  Also it is a blessed relief to know that I have managed to get all my marmalade made for another year, with a photo of the sum ingredients below:


Gifford's famous Marmalade - the ingredients

more pushing and pulling of the canes, and this sums up to me being very tired every night.  The weather has been kind in the sense that the pruning was done in pretty nice conditions (even got sunburnt, but with my skin a 60W bulb could do that after winter), but the lack of decent rainfall has continued, and this has made this winter one of the driest on record in the South West of WA.  What this means for the 2013 vintage is now an unknown and I will be looking at this intently during the start of the growing season.


Even though we have had this big dry, the dam did overflow on 24 August – the latest on record (I think – will check this) and with a bit of rain to start off September the dam is getting a good flush of water through it.  Found a few marron (fresh water crayfish) in the paddock walking their way up to the dam, you know they are about when you see the yearlings in the paddock following them along in a file – I believe it is a version of daytime TV for them.  Always tempted to put one in the pot (they do taste delicious), but as they are making such an arduous trip I usually pick them up and give them a lift to the dam for the last 200m – with luck they wil remember my good will and provide us with a dam full of marron.



Thief in the night…


Well this month I am literally going to steal something from someone else and claim it.  Well maybe I won’t claim it, as when you read it you will know it is too well written to be put together by myself.  The little bit of writing I have copied below is from a great guy called Julian Coldrey, lives in Brisbane, writes on and is one of my favorite wine writers due to his great skill with conveying his appreciation and insights.  This is a piece that resonates with anyone that loves and collects wine; have a read and I will see you at the bottom:

“It doesn't take much exposure to wine to understand, then be overwhelmed by, its astounding, infinite variability. To know wine in its entirety is impossible, but the urge to experience its endless beauty is strong. We chase a constantly expanding repertoire of styles in a -- perhaps laudable, perhaps gluttonous -- attempt to gauge wine's true scope. It's easy to lose track of the aesthetics of wine amidst sensory (not to mention marketing) overload. All of a sudden, we're talking more about what a wine represents than what it is.

On a fundamental level, wine never happens until it's drunk, so it's worth putting that relationship back at the centre of wine appreciation. I'm not playing a postmodern game and suggesting a wine literally doesn't exist until it is consumed. Rather, a bottle of wine isn't complete if it's never tasted. Until that moment, it is just liquid potential - an idea, a "maybe." The ideas may be interesting or fraudulent, novel or hackneyed, but without tasting, they remain untested.

And that's true of each bottle, even if one is familiar with other bottles of the same wine. Wine drunk at one moment will be different from at any other moment, its chemistry changed, its context shifted. The only chance we get to capture the beauty within a bottle is at the moment of consumption. If you believe this, as I do, then the idea of a trophy wine, one never intended to be drunk, is an obscenity. It makes a mockery of wine and its capacity to impart pleasure.

Ironically, we destroy wine in our attempt to appreciate it, which makes the drink even more tantalising. Unlike a beautiful painting, one can't revisit a wine exactly as it was the first (or second, or third) time. The slight sadness I feel when I open a rare bottle is, I think, related to the fact that drinking a wine involves both the creation and the elimination of its beauty. If wine doesn't exist until it is drunk, it only ever exists in that moment too. And when it's gone, all we have left are our memories of it, subject to the same distortions and inaccuracies as our memories of loved ones who have died.

If a bottle of wine does have any sort of life beyond being drunk, it's in the minds of those who were there. I've often wondered why I, and thousands of other wine lovers, are driven to write about the wines we love. Perhaps our notes are eulogies of a sort, reminders of what we liked and didn't like, written in the knowledge that a bottle consumed can no longer speak for itself. All that's left are those who remember how beautiful it really was.”


See, I told you he was good.  Having had the pleasure of drinking with Julian on a couple of occasions, this piece brings back a memory from one particular night.  We each bought a bottle to a dinner, me a Madiran from a recent trip to France and JC an “iconic” Pinot from a Victorian producer.  The Madiran was drinking superbly, but the iconic wine just came across as a wine desperate to impress with all sorts of tricks having been applied but all unfinished and unmelded.  This led us to a discourse in how to describe the wine in human terms and much hilarity followed, and I am sure the fellow diners thought we were a bit “uncouth”.  I will never forget it, not because of the wine solely, but because of the company and the simple pleasure of both enjoying a simple moment in time.


This brings me to my trips into the Eastern States at the end of this month and an invitation to you all with regards to trying and tasting our wines.  I will be having a dinner with all our current and museum wines available for tasting on the following nights in the following cities:


Brisbane:        Saturday 22 September 2012


Sydney:           Tuesday 25 September 2012


Melbourne:    Thursday 27 September 2012


I have not selected the restaurants as yet, so if you are keen to try the wines and you would like a dinner out please contact us and we will keep you in the loop in regards to timing and place. I am pretty excited as the Teroldego and Shiraz will be making their first airing as well as the fully barrel fermented 2010 Viognier – oohlala – and to make up the numbers will be verticals of the Reserve Merlot and the Allouran.  Hopefully we will be able to share some stories over some lovely wine and food.


Simply too dry (Month 2) ...


I had hoped last month that August would redeem our dry winter rainfall, but though we had a touch more rain the total rainfall for winter has proved to be very poor.  It has been a trend for a while now, and this is concerning as it is matching in with a decade of warmer temperatures for the south west corner of WA and that does put pressure on our groundwater and dams.


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


August 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          17.4°C

Daily Max recorded            21.3°C


Avg Minimum Temp             7.2°C               

Daily Min recorded               1.3°C


Rainfall:                               120.4mm

The maximum temperature range is similar to last year, but the minimum is a bit lower due to the clear nights.  Rainfall last year was more than this year, and this is highlighting the overall lack of rain we have had as last year was still an average year for rainfall.

August 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          17.8°C

Daily Max recorded            20.9°C

Avg Minimum Temp           9.3°C

Daily Min recorded             1.1°C


Rainfall:                              159mm


Spring to be sprung …


Well the start of another growing season, it all comes so quickly and always surprises me on how quickly the seasons change.  Grass will be exploding out of the ground, vines will be popping new shoots and the flock of Baudin Cockatoos will set up camp in the section of forest just below the house.  Some work abroad, and then some travels through the Eastern States will be the order of the month, as well as some mulching and undervine spraying just to make things look nice and tidy in the vineyard.

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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