Monthly Report - November 2022
Slow Seasonal Start-up…
For those of you who have had that old car that would only start when you thought it was about to flatten the battery – rrrr rrrr, puppp puppp, boof boof boof, vroom vroom – this has been the start of the growing season in Margaret River. This year we have been starting to sweat as the weather battery is just hanging in there, turning over the vine engine until fortunately in mid-November there was a spark and off she goes – vintage next stop.
Every vintage has a story to tell with Spring being the “set-up” as the main characters are introduced and connections are made as we all hope for a happy ending and the hero gets the heroine (or some such…). In the meantime, we rush about with spray and other vineyard equipment and do the walking required for wires, irrigation and vines – it is a 6-month version of Brothers Karamazov with a glass of booze at the end.
Flowering is late but now well underway – not a large crop set by the looks. Bunches in the Merlot and Cabernet Franc do not look too large and I am just hoping for a solid crop this year after a low tonnage last year. Chardonnay and Shiraz are full of beans, lots of leaf growth and I have fingers and toes crossed that the Chardonnay keeps all its fruit, and we get a solid tonnage – I base this on just how delicious the current vintage is and how much Marjory enjoys a glass or two of this with her Netflix and fish dinners.
So, all is going ahead with most days having some vineyard work tacked in and Jack does enjoy the myriad of new smells that he collects whilst running around while Marjory and I soldier on. Tim does mention in our phone calls that he would love to help, but being in Melbourne what can he do? I say send over the children such that I can have some indentured serfs … but alas they have “schooling” apparently, so disappointed.
So as to make you all green with envy, Marjory and I had a three-day break in Singapore to celebrate a milestone birthday for her (and there is noooo way I am discussing numbers here). We have been to Singapore a number of times over the years, thus we know the place pretty well and it is always a town where you can find a new wrinkle in the same scene by just looking a little deeper. A few tables were booked, and walking shoes and shorts packed and off we went – awesome time was had, and sore legs secured.
Singapore is a place where you can spend a fortune in seconds or spend a little for days. We oscillated between the two by having lunch at Spago at Marina Bay Sands and dinner at Maxwells Food Hall in Chinatown to name but two opposites. My reward for faithfully taking sufficient photos to fill the cloud was to find a whisky bar or three to try a few malts at the end of each evening – tres enjoyable. Happy Birthday Marjory and may there be many many more along the journey.
Just a little special for the Mailing List as we approach the silly season. We have heard on the grapevine that we have received for our 2021 Chardonnay a very high critic wine score to be released in the New Year. So as to beat the heat and offer a treat, as well as a big “look at us” moment this Christmas I have twisted Tim’s arm and we can offer a special for this drop-dead delicious wine.
We will give 20% off the Chardonnay if you use the following Code when checking out GoHard-GoChard. My gosh – that is going to make the prawns and crays look that much better with a glass of fresh Chardonnay balancing out the over-zealous use of seafood sauce that is such a Christmas staple. If orders are received by 10 December we have been informed by AusPost that the wines will get to most places in Australia before Christmas Day.
I know that we will be cracking a few bottles ourselves and taking the opportunity to indulge in the wine and the moment this Christmas. Cheers Comrades.
Stop rolling your eyes – I know that look. You are thinking “here he goes, a rant on natural wines / pet nats / sulphur free / hipster juice, yada yada yada”; but no, I am thinking of what is the pathway that we have all trodden to get to where we are on our wine adventure and much of it leads to where we trend over the years. Now I know that sounds strange but please hear me out.
Our view of, and growth in wine is caused by our changing window of experiences, changing tastes, and changing capacity to collect and enjoy more and more wine. We have a trend line that goes down a pathway in which 50% of it is very similar to many of our peer group, and 50% of it is of our free will – creating our unique wine trend. This trend line can be seen as both generational (Baby Boomers have a different attitude to wine than Millennials for example) and financial in many ways – but this is in no way an absolute.
You can assume that those who have been drinking longer started their journey at a time in which there were limited choices, the world of wine was very much a few distinct regions and varieties, and that being an expert meant you could scream out “Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in Bordeaux” and be treated as if Robert Parker Jnr himself had walked into the room. For the more recent drinking populace, they have been tossed into a world of thousands of wines available from a variety of sources, all with hundreds of online tasting notes and support and to yell out “Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in Bordeaux”, there would be a few guffaws, and someone would ask for you to sit down and stop embarrassing them.
So why do we still think that “we” the wineries need to “educate” the drinkers out there? Explain what good wine is? Provide information packs and such to promote regions and label various areas as “best for” whichever variety they wish to name? Offer “gateway” wines, as if the path is only through one entrance?
You see it is all just so silly really.
I had a young couple and their child come through and they asked me what I drink, and what I thought was good wine. Immediately I thought they are on to me, but then I realised they had yet to uncover my insecurities and awkwardness, so ….. phew. I said I drank mainly my own wine (and that’s only 2-3 bottles a week now when there are not any functions, dinners or sitting down with Clive or Chris going on), and I have no way of defining what good wine is outside of what my experience has shown me.
The concept of journeying along this life of ours to find better and better wines until you fall off your perch is all sort of wrong. Is there some sort of crescendo when you drink a glass of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti or Chateau Cheval Blanc and then the lights go out? Is the joy of wine finding something that cost $20, be in your eyes (or some opinion you trust), as good as a $50, $70, or even $200 bottle of wine that you may or may not have drunk? Is the hoarding of expensive wines only to be brought out (if ever) to be drunk as a form of confirmation of your wisdom and benevolence become your imaginary goal?
Now, let me say quite clearly if you fall into the categories above that is totally cool. I am not one to be able to comment because at different times I have been exactly one or two of those categories and have staggered my way through – and the way I went through it was by simply having too much wine and too much involvement for me to hang on to the “preciousness” of it all. Thus, when I see how we are as an industry meant to “educate” the masses as if we all put in the effort, then the pool of wine drinkers will grow and we will all be swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck is all bonkers and Boomer thinking (and yes, genuinely embarrassing).
So, I did not try to educate that couple in the tasting room with facts and definitions of good wine. I offered them some simple solutions for those who enjoy wine and wish to find a world outside of the wines from Liquorland:
Drink wines to suit the occasion and never fret about wine quality. If it is abysmal, do not drink it – if it is amazing, awesome. Take a mental note on why (this means try to remember the wine and not the fact that you are on an absolute high from a perfect evening out with someone that actually enjoys your company – bless them).
Wine facts are a bit like simply knowing “stuff” like how to mix 25:1 two stroke fuel, and how to change a filter in a vacuum cleaner. It is a good feeling to know “stuff”, but you can surprisingly get through life without having to know everything, some times you need a plumber and that is to be expected.
Taste a lot of wines if you want to learn about wines. Tasting is preferential over drinking, but heck you do you, and be hellishly curious. What others rave about you may find to be the equivalent of sudsy water and that is a really good thing to know – hence my current Nero d’Avola and Pet Nat count in my cellar is at zero.
Cellar some wines. Just do it – the only way you can grow is to have some fertile soil which comes in the form of some wines that you can learn from yourself based upon your own knowledge of what it was, and what it now is. Your memories of flavours are much better than you realise, just because you can not articulate it does not mean your brain is unable to recognise subtle changes and flavour profiles.
I am past 50, feeling a tad bockety and I have no idea what is trendy anymore. I have Marjory to keep me informed on what is new based on social media and fashion and the like – saving me the fleeting concern I may have of saying something really silly in mixed company. I have a dog that does not give a hoot about anything except stealing shoes and hanging out with his Mum. But I have had an amazing wine journey and for that I will be forever grateful, and I hope that all of my fellow comrades have a wonderful journey along their wine “trend” and make the most of what is a damn delicious drink.
Wine will lead you to the most beautiful places in the world – Haro, Rioja is one of them
Well, it has not been the warmest November we have ever had, but gratefully it has not been the coolest either. After such a cold start to vintage, it is almost a palpable relief to have some warm days brown up the landscape and redden up your neck and legs after such a drawn-out winter and spring. Though we are still on the cooler side of averages, the dry weather has eased the mildew pressures in the vineyard and ensured sprays got out without problems giving us a lovely growing window for the first time this vintage.
The numbers for this month and last year’s figures are provided below:
Avg Maximum Temp 22.1°C
Daily Max recorded 34.2°C
Avg Minimum Temp 9.1°C
Daily Min recorded 5.2°C
The average maximum and minimum temperature averages are very similar to 2021. Rainfall total for 2022 is 20mm above last year’s total, but rainfall has slowed to a trickle since the middle of November.
Avg Maximum Temp 22.3°C
Daily Max recorded 34.1°C
Avg Minimum Temp 9.3°C
Daily Min recorded 2.9°C
When you have grandchildren under 5yo there is very rarely a time in which you will see such unbridled enthusiasm as a child being told Santa is on his way – bring it on! Now for all of us crusty elderly folk (i.e. over 12yo), then Christmas is a mixture of joy and dread with the ratio depending on where you are in the family time line.
So, as we work away on the vines doing all the little things, we will be getting in the ham and the presents and preparing for those few days in which the email genuinely comes to a halt. Tim and his family are off to Japan for a very very white Christmas and Marjory and I will be at home hopefully having a few days on the beach. All the very best dear comrades and we will see you in 2023!
As always if you have any queries about what has been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email, Instagram or Twitter and we will do our very best to answer any question.
Blue Poles Vineyard