Vintage 2019 Report

Peter Thompson - Owner

Vintage is always an exciting time when the hopes of the whole year’s work rest on getting complex judgments right. The timing of grape picking, scheduling of tank/barrel availability, booking teams and equipment for picking and a host of other factors can be controlled but there is always underlying uncertainty about the weather, which refuses to be controlled.

The time of picking is carefully monitored by the winemaking and viticulture teams, checking on the dropping level of acidity (high enough to deliver the welcome tangy taste of white wines and longevity in the red wines but not so high that it is unpleasant in the mouth). The degree of ripeness is partially monitored by the rising baume, which reflects the sweetness and sugar content of the grapes and approximates the final alcohol level after fermentation. The trend to ripening is reflected in dropping acidity and increasing sweetness. Of course, these are not the only indicators, and our experienced team looks for flavour development, health of the vine, canopy cover, seasonal weather, and availability of pickers to strike the ideal time for picking.

 Tracking Chardonnay Ripeness

Analysis of Chardonnay the month before vintage, showing dropping acidity and increasing sugar (baume) levels.

Once again this year, we were delighted with the quality of the Chardonnay. The Dijon 95, 96 and 277 clones are now 15 years old and are coming into their own, producing a more fragrant and floral style than the more intense GinGin Chardonnay. This was evident in the 2018 Four Chambers Chardonnay and we are confident the 2019 will show similar character.

The use of the GinGin clone Chardonnay (located at the front of the Wilyabrup vineyard) ensures our Estate Chardonnay has again shown clean, intense, complex aromas and flavours. The Chardonnay from the newly acquired Donaldson Road vineyard (predominantly GinGin) is so far looking very exciting. The Chardonnay from this vineyard has previously produced high quality, national award winning chardonnay.

Our Chardonnays are continuing to follow the direction set for us by Bob Cartwright but now almost all undergoing wild ferment by Paul Dixon, together with use of large format barrels for fermentation. The barrel ferments for 2019 are now all complete showing delightful fresh aromas, but not yet settled to clarity (see below). We will be checking the development of each barrel through the coming season.

 19 Chard Turbid Juice
2019 Chardonnay in its early stages

Weather conditions were ideal for the white varieties. Unseasonable rains in January were welcome, cooling things down and helping to freshen up the whites in their final ripening phase. 

 Cowaramup Rainfall 2019

BOM Graph showing unseasonal January 2019 rain


We are yet to harvest our red varieties (apart from our small plot of Pinot Noir) and we are anxiously waiting for the reds to develop to full ripeness. The summer rains which were helpful for the whites, may not be so kind to the reds.

Our new vineyard at Donaldson Road has a large acreage of Shiraz. As this is a slightly thinner skinned grape than the Bordeaux varieties, we are concerned that the moist soil from summer rains and warm conditions could throw up unwanted spores of fungi. We will anxiously wait for the Shiraz to develop full ripeness and hope that the summer cyclone activity off our North West coast does not send rain as far as the southern cape of Western Australia and damage our prized Shiraz.

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