“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)





18 February 2014


Hottest wettest angriest vintage
No sweat on Old Plains Shiraz
Ancient strugglers play heat cool

"You’d think nothing could survive out there on some of those days."

Tim Freeland is one winemaker who doesn't mind acknowledging vintage realities.

He's a partner of Dominic Torzi, whose winery DRINKSTER chose as last year's best value Australian producer.

For those who weren't here, it really did feel like nothing could survive. We had two heatwaves. On January 16th Adelaide was confirmed as the hottest city in the world. We had five days in a row above 42°C.  From January 13th to the 17th daily temperatures were 12°C or more above normal. It hit 45.1°C on the 14th.

And then it rained. Absolutely pissed down. We suddenly had the wettest 24-hour period since 1969 and the fifth-wettest Adelaide day on record, when 75.2mm fell. 

Parts of the Ranges took 130mm and more. Utterly parched berries sucked that up til they split, then that raw exposed sugar caught the moulds and funguses and growers watched their incomes turn to mush. 

Like the wettest vintage on record, 2011, the better operators managed to squeeze through this sickening roller coaster. 

"We started picking for Old Plains and Torzi Freeland International on Feb 9th," Tim said, "... directly after the heat on a cool Sunday morning. We’ve bought in 22 tonnes of Old Plains old vine Shiraz, from four different vineyards at Penfield Gardens and Angle Vale."

That photograph above shows a fine example: thick tough old skins; no splits. 

These are the precious remnant vineyards of the Adelaide Plains vignoble, which is largely eaten by droll villa rash: eave-to-eave dormitoria.

"The old bastards gave us steady Baumés from 13 to 14," he said. "They held up really well in the heat, tough old buggers: thick skin. They trucked through ferment, plenty of dark colour, aromatic, spice. Basket pressed and barrelled down last Sunday. Just finishing off ferment in barrel."

That covers the partners' Plains growers. But heading uphill, their news is still encouraging.

"The One Tree Hill/Bibaringa/Uleybury stuff looks to have pulled through," he continued.  "It's pretty free-draining up there. Everything seems really fresh after that rain. The vines have picked up, even putting on some new growth. We'll take 20 tonnes off there this Thursday and Friday. 

"Even the Lenswood Pinot Gris looks okay at this stage."  Lenswood took 130mm in the deluge.  "There's no splitting, but the same grower has some split on other varieties that were more advanced."

If you must touch wood, make it a two-year-old Vosges puncheon, attagal.

Tim Freeland with the author at the launch of Evidence of vineyards on Mars, the funny book I did last year with George Grainger Aldridge. Tim's a graphic artist as well as being a terminal winemaking obsessive - he designed the cover for us ... photo David Hinds


southern pagan said...

you hear that mollydooker nonsense on the abc this morning whitey they never ever had a imperfect vintage did they always a hundred percent with god on their side

Anonymous said...

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-18/nrn-sa-grapes/5266810 is a bit better balance