19 August 2016
It’s that time of year again where the coordinated mayhem of grape ripening, harvesting, crushing and fermenting has subsided.
Every day I drive into the carport, look at the surfboards, the bike, the skateboard and I’m reminded that summer is long gone and that autumn is over. We are in the midst of a very cold, wet winter as the vineyard team work through pruning the Beresford blocks - out in the bitter cold, rain and wind. While we prepare the vines for their next lap around the calendar it’s good to reflect on the vintage of 2016.
Like some of the drier seasons in distant memory in McLaren Vale such as 2005 and 2007 it was a dry winter with many subregions rolling into spring with a relatively dry subsoil profile. With significant hot conditions in October through December it meant the vines required early irrigation to keep them healthy. Fortunately at our Blewitt Springs estate, the deep rooted vines accessed the soil moisture with ease, producing some large canopies (shoot and leaf growth) early in the season. This set the framework for a balanced leaf to fruit ratio that would carry the vines right through to the end of vintage.
Nevertheless some heatwave conditions in December, while the country was on holidays meant our vineyard supervisor John was up early and around the clock maintaining irrigation on our young plantings that were a little sensitive to heat and some of our drier, well drained blocks.
As vintage approached, the usual February heat never arrived. While the vines had small bunches with less apparent berries on each bunch, the berries were slightly larger than most years – vines have a very good way of compensating to achieve their own balance. A slightly higher cropping level and mild February allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and steadily, with the reds achieving vibrant bright deep colours and lovely ripe tannins.
While the previous 2015 vintage was the shortest on record, 2016 was a steady measured intake through mid- February and March, with a flurry of crushing around mid-March to harvest all the fruit that was ripe and ready.
The resulting wines, after all the processing, fermentation and clarification are on track for solid rich wines with focus and velvety tannins.
Stylistically, whites are aromatic, lifted and elegant with balanced natural acidity.
Reds are particularly interesting with soil type, trellising, sub-region and cropping levels all influencing the resultant quality and style. A standout feature of the 2016 reds is the vibrant, bright pigments facilitated by the mild lead up to harvest and cooler night temperatures that allowed acidity to be retained. Reds are a contemporary style with spice, red and dark berry fruit flavours and will benefit from subtle barrel maturation in restrained new, one and two year old barrels.
What does this all mean for you, the consumer? After seeing through 25 plus vintages in many regions and with many different varieties I can tell you that every vintage is different. While some can be challenging in the vineyard and winery and others flow perfectly, it is always our jobs as a winery team to be dynamic, to adjust our methods and techniques for every block, every batch, every tank, sometimes every barrel. Why? - We are dealing with a variable natural product – wine grapes. We ask that you put your faith in us as viticulturists, cellar operators and winemakers to produce the very best every vintage and of course to put our very best in every blend and every bottling so that when you open a Beresford of any vintage you will be justly rewarded.
Cheers and enjoy,
Chris Dix and Beresford winery team.