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Monthly Report - November 2012

And the winner is…


Well unbelievably, that would be us.  Some things you do on the spur of the moment and you either live to regret it, or think what a smoking genius you are.  I am putting myself in the second category for once … ah yes, it feels good.  I will start at the beginning.


Back in early July, Nick Stock on twitter did a call out for samples to be sent in for tasting for the 2013 Gourmet Fine Wine Guide and for the first time in a long time I thought, well why not.  We had just released the 2010 Viognier, 2008 Allouran, and the 2010 Reserve Merlot – and anyone within earshot would have known I think all three are excellent wines and a real achievement from our little no-name vineyard.  I had sent wine in to “The Big Red Wine Book” in the past, but that publication is no more – so here was an opportunity to find out where these wines stood in Nick Stock’s eyes.  I have checked through this publication in the past and it is has some impressive winners as many of the bigger and high end boutique wineries submit samples, and as such Nick has a very fine slice of Australian and New Zealand wines pass over his tasting table.


I then completely forgot about it – reckoning our chances of anything were very slim based on past experiences.  Up turned an email in early November inviting me to the book launch in Melbourne and my first guess was that they had sent one out to every winery in the hope of filling the stands.  A quick check with David Lloyd of Eldridge Estate to see if he was going indicated that maybe there was something to this (his words to me were “Your Terribledego must have fluked something” – bless him), and a follow up email from Nick Stock gave us the impression that we won a little gong.


Tim and Yuko attended (Tim has a speech he wrote 10 years ago just for this very moment, it claims many things from site selection to his intricate knowledge of powdery mildew – he will not let me read it but I have had Yuko confirm to me of its existence), and yabba dabba doo we won what I feel is something really special, the “Best Merlot” award.  To the great disappointment of everyone there Tim was not able to unfurl the speech as a mere handshake had to suffice – next time buddy, next time…

201311_2013 Best Merlot - 2010 Blue Pole

Australia's Best Merlot?  Nick Stock thinks so...

To anyone who has read through these monthly missives over the 6-7 years would have guessed that we do put a lot of effort into our Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes.  With very low yields, attention to detail and the best oak for our wine, we select out our Reserve wines only when there is a wine that is complete and excellent and from my time with our wines I rate the 2010 Reserve Merlot as our most “complete” wine to date – it excites me as it replicates the hope I had many years ago of making an excellent example of this beautiful varietal in Australia and not a dull and horribly bloated wine as is the case with some Australian Merlot.  Big kudos to Nick Stock on backing his judgement and picking our wine over some very good (and well known) competition and it gives us a big kick start into the coming year and vintage.


Unfortunately I was away when the “Gourmet Escape Weekend” was on in Margaret River on the 24th – 25th November (in fact I am still away, writing this from a hotel room in Kamsar after a rather bumpy day travelling around the bauxite deposits in north west Guinea), and at the event the 2010 Reserve Merlot was presented in a series of tastings hosted by Nick Stock.  According to Gail, who attended on behalf of Blue Poles, it was a lot of fun and very nice to have our wine in front of so many people.


So with all this showing off has anything been done in the vineyard?  Well yes, a bit, but not as much as there should be due to travel commitments once more.  Late spring is really a thinning process and this helps concentrate the fruit flavours in the final wine.  The earlier it is done the better, with before Christmas best – so once I return from deepest darkest Africa it is time for a sun hat, some shorts, and some sharp snips to get this moving along.  The vineyard is otherwise looking good – I have stopped spraying herbicide under vine now – the vines are now >10 years old and in effect out compete the grasses once it gets drier so we step that little bit closer to calling ourselves “organic” – heaven forbid.  The slasher has knocked back the mid-row grasses and the weather is drying out, so with the roses in full bloom it does look like a lovely location to grow “award winning wine”.


Missing Topic…


Alas with so much work on at the moment I have not had a chance to sit down a write up a topic for discussion.  I will put my thinking cap on and do better for the final report of 2012, and the Christmas / New Year break should give me the window of time I am after to get something interesting down….



November you fickle month...


The normal association of Margaret River weather and the month of November is one of warm to hot days with the start of the sea breezes which dominate the rest of summer.  We had some very strange weather this year, with the final 2 days of the month positively freezing (well a maximum of 15°C), while in Melbourne they were reaching temperatures of 40°C.  I checked back over the past 8 years, and surprisingly the numbers are average for the month (2005 and 2008 had an average maximum of 20.2 – 20°C – hence the difficult vintages of 2006 and 2009). So it is a fickle month for weather.


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


November 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          22.5°C

Daily Max recorded            28.9°C


Avg Minimum Temp           10.0°C               

Daily Min recorded               5.1°C


Rainfall:                               51.6mm

The maximum temperature range is lower than last year, and the minimum is also a bit lower due to the cold frontal weather than came through.  Rainfall this year was more than last year, and this is positive, but the year 2012 is still very, very dry.

November 2011:      

Avg Maximum Temp          22.9°C

Daily Max recorded            33.1°C

Avg Minimum Temp           11.2°C

Daily Min recorded               5.5°C


Rainfall:                              41.6mm


Bring in some Christmas cheer …


Well it has been a frantically busy year once more and we at Blue Poles are very much looking forward to the Christmas / New Year break when we get a chance to relax into some lovely food and wine.  Upon my return to the vineyard I have a fair few jobs to get on with, which after a few weeks away in the wilds of odd countries is positively enjoyable.  Take care everyone, have a truly excellent Christmas and New Year and raise a glass or two for all of our blessings.  Cheers!

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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