The end of the 2020 vintage that is, for the southern hemisphere. What else could I be talking about…
After the year Australia has had, this vintage is going to be an interesting one (interesting is a word I like to use when there are no other polite terms). Here in Victoria we had a cold, wet and windy November, which caused a bad fruit set. December was depressing and January brought more smoke than sun. In the end, Shiraz ended up looking surprisingly good with a high yield. While, tight bunched varieties, like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, were more mildew than anything else.
One grape variety that particularly struggled in Victoria this year was Cabernet Sauvignon. A cold and short summer, in a cold Maritime Climate, well that was a hopeless battle. But it created an opportunity for me, and some winemaker friends to try or hands on making our first own wine.
An interesting process where we had to get creative with what we had to work with. What we had to work with was unripe grapes and green stalks, and to add insult to injury the only day we could manage to pick, it was pouring down all day.
Well, we did out best with what we had, which in this case meant that we went for a partial carbonic maceration. Yes, a carbonic maceration for an unripe Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaking is all about being creative (and playful) and working with what one got.
9 days of carbonic maceration passed before we destemmed and crushed the grapes. Since the grapes were so unripe (not something anyone would use under normal circumstances), we only achieved a Baume of 10.2, so even though it broke my European heart, chaptalization was necessary. Yeast was added to help simulate the continued fermentation and Malolactic Bacteria introduced a few days later. Then, since we had such a small batch (just for fun after all) we had to get inventive when it came to the pressing, which in this case meant going old-school. We managed (thanks to dumb luck) to find a traditional Basket Press. Which in the end, from 183 kg of grapes, gave us roughly 110 litres of finished wine.
After some rest in a mini tank we will later bottle the wine, and then all we can do, is to give it some more time. And count the days until we can open our first 2020 bottle, with hopefully will only be a few months away.