“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland)

Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin

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30 January 2009

HELLISH HEAT AND HEARTBREAK HITS OZ

MCLAREN VALE VINE LEAVES WILTING BEFORE THE GRAPES HAVE FULLY COLOURED ... CLICK ON PIC TO GO TO JAMES HOOK'S SOBER VITI BLOG

Austral Records And Ambitions Tumble As Mercury Soars
Oversupply Suddenly A Thing Of The Past?
by PHILIP WHITE

The winemakers of south-eastern Australia are at home in the aircon, desperately drinking freezing beer, avoiding the bank manager. If indeed they still have an electricity supply.

Widespread blackouts have added to the forlorn misery of the savage heatwave which is literally frying the grapes of vintage 2009.

Railways are closing as tracks buckle and carriages derail. The Indian Pacific is returning to Adelaide to hide in the shade. The whole electricity grid is collapsing. Streets and highways are empty. Twenty three people have died in Adelaide today, from what the whitecoats politely call “sudden death”. They mean impossible heat.

Adelaide, the capital of Australia’s wine industry, had just endured its fourth successive day with temperatures over 40 degrees Celcius (104°F). It was 43.1°C today, and 45.7° on Wednesday, when one householder reported 54.5°C (130°F) at Strathalbyn, just over the range from here. That thermometer was in the shade beneath a verandah under a leafy tree. Last night we recorded our highest ever minimum temperature, 33.9°C. It is expected the next few days will continue in such blister zones, with a cool change coming on Tuesday, when the max is expected to fall to a merciful 38°C.

But then it goes on and on and on.

Vineyards are frying; leaves dramatically yellowing and collapsing; and grapes which were just beginning veraison (colouring) have suddenly changed their phenolic manufacture to put on heat shield toughness in their skins. Provided their leaves hold up.

Mercifully, acids seem to be holding in the cooler regions, as vines go into shock mode, but leaf damage is heartbreaking.

Only the fittest, healthiest, best-balanced vineyards can survive this.

McLaren Vale, the Barossa, Clare – even Coonawarra – are generally cactus. The Murray Valley is pretty much post nuclear.

Vines which were out of balance, with little leaf and large crops, are literally collapsing. New plantings are dying, regardless of how much water viticulturers apply. If, indeed, they have any.

Thredbo, the main resort in the snow country of the Australian Alps, has had its hottest day on record, at 32°C.

Melbourne, the infamously chilly capital of Victoria, expects a major respite with a predicted maximum of just 37°C tomorrow. It has just endured its hottest week in two centuries.

Melburnians have endured three successive days of temperatures above 43°C for the first time in recorded history. The mercury reached 45.1°C, 44.3 yesterday, and 43.4 on Wednesday.

Today’s 45.1°C at 4.27pm was the second highest temperature ever recorded in Melbourne, behind only the 45.6 recorded on Black Friday, 13 January 1939.

Melbourne's most sustained heatwave occurred in January 1908 when temperatures reached 39.9 (15th January), 42.8 (16th), 44.2 (17th), 40.0 (18th), 41.1 (19th) and 42.7 (20th).

Fireys extinguished over 750 fires in the tiny state in the last two days; the Strzlecki Ranges remain ablaze.

Geelong, on the very cool Bellarine Peninsula, today recorded 45.3°C.

Even Champagne-cool Tasmania saw an all-time record today – it was 42.2°C at Scamander.

This is another year of absolute heartbreak for grapegrowers and winemakers in south-eastern Australia.

COMMENT

Unfortunately you've nailed the current state of affairs in our battered vineyards.

Just over a week ago I was looking at relatively healthy and happy vines with nicely developing fruit. Tonight I went to turn on the irrigation and took a look at my raisined Grenache which being a slightly later ripening variety hadn't had the time to kick into its darker shade yet and so the green berries have been slaughtered by mother natures blast furnace.

The Shiraz vines are still hanging in there but the fruit is somewhat confused about whether it is acidic or cooked jam so I don't know where this will leave us.

Not good at all and just another nail in the coffin.

As if the global issues and ever present pressure from wineries wasn't bad enough, now the growers may not have anything to show for their efforts.

Paul Petagna signing in for all my fellow Blow Torch victims. Hang in there however you can.
January 30, 2009 11:40 PM

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you've nailed the current state of affairs in our battered vineyards.
Just over a week ago I was looking at relatively healthy and happy vines with nicely developing fruit. Tonight I went to turn on the irrigation and took a look at my raisoned Grenache which being a slightly later ripening variety hadn't had the time to kick into it's darker shade yet and so the green berries have been slaughtered by mother natures blast furnace.
The Shiraz vines are still hanging in there but the fruit is somewhat confused about whether it is acidic or cooked jam so i don't know where this will leave us.
Not good at all and just another nail in the coffin.
As if the global issues and ever present preasure from wineries wasn't bad enogh, now the growers may not have anything to show for their efforts.
Paul Petagna signing in for all my fellow Blow torch victims. Hang in there however you can.