JULY 2016                                                                                           Issue # 3  

We didn't mean to WIN 

Australians are voting in their Federal Election this week, apparently lured to their nearest polling booth by the promise of a Sausage Sizzle. Ironically UK politics is also going up in smoke in the aftermath of the Brexit bombshell, so as it's all but impossible to ignore politics at the moment, you'll forgive me if I don't even try to. Neal Martin wrote on Facebook (see, wine writer, first reference to wine!) that the EU referendum was a molotov cocktail that was handed to the public who threw it right back at the Establishment. You may have seen the story last year about an organisation called the Natural Environment Research Council who held an online poll to name their new polar research ship. Some wag suggested Boaty McBoatface, which went viral, and the comedy name ended up winning by a large margin. It was reported that the chief executive of NERC faced the dilemma of choosing between the credibility of his organisation and the burden of public opinion. Right now in the UK we know how he feels, we're just waiting for a grown up to come into the room and tidy up the mess. I'll leave the last word to John Oliver who summed up the whole debacle on Last Week Tonight (extreme language warning).

Welcome to The Busby Bugle!
Amazingly for a wine based newsletter we've made it all the way to Issue 3 (I don't get out much) and what a treat we have in store for you. Busby Alumni are popping up all over the world, drinking great Aussie wine with winemakers and each other and proving that community and commerce knows no boundaries or borders and that we all benefit when we work together. (sorry, politics again). There's heaps of exciting winery news, from new websites (parallax!), new wines (premium!), new restaurants (Pauletts!), new glassware (Muscat!), new barrels (bloody big ones!), lemon curd (for sale!), fish pics and a photo of Robert Hill Smith leaning on a spade.
Plus a bit on tax and a roundup of vintage 16. What more could you ask for, really? 

What has 24 legs, 18,000 words, 400 wines, 200 photos, 10 black rats, 6 squid, 2 dogs and one badass Wombat? 
The 2015 Tour Report is up on the website now. Click below

ALUMNI NEWS  

Our Alumni community now stands at 103 and I'm delighted to report that I've kept in touch with every single one of them (despite the restraining orders). Here's what they've been up to recently.  

Alvin Gho wins Alumni of the Month award
Alvin has set a new record by sending in not one, not two but three photos of him with winemakers and fellow Busby Alumni. The fantastic shot above featuring (left to right) Christian Zhang (Busby May 2014), Yang Lu (May 2014), Alvin (2015) and Ying Guo (May 2014) was taken in Bordeaux just last week. I have no idea what they were doing there, but clearly not voting Leave. Underneath (left) is Alvin with Taras Ochota at Burnt Ends in Singapore, and (right) with Ryo Kasahara (Busby 2015) at Longreach Seafood Restaurant, Singapore (featuring Yangarra Grenache). Well done on spreading the love Alvin, Singapore Slings on me next time I'm in town. 
I was sitting on my sofa the other night wondering how many episodes of new Top Gear I'll have to sit through before I lose the habit of watching Top Gear, when a program called The Wine Show came on, featuring our very own Yang Lu (Shangri-La, Busby May 2014).
Yang gave the show's presenter Joe Fattorini a tour of a Shanghai food market and then put him to a Chinese food and wine matching test. You're a natural on camera Yang, well done! 
Joao Pires (Busby 2012) has moved from the relative sanity of working for Heston Blumenthal in London to running the beverage operation at one of Macau's largest casino and restaurant empires. When I visited Macau in May Joao gave me a whistle stop tour of the "numerous" Michelin Star venues in his group which also includes French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Korean restaurants. Their latest mega-complex Studio City has the world's only figure-of-eight ferris wheel and a 4D Batman themed flying cinema. He had me at Batman. Obviously Macau never got the memo there's been a global recession. My visit coincided with a tasting hosted by Marcus Ford (Busby 2012), GM of Pudao Wines and now heading up the newly launched Langton's Asia (part of the Summergate / Woolworths stable). According to Marcus there are big plans afoot for Langton's Asia, watch this space. 
Zachary Yu (Busby 2012) has been busy preparing for the launch of his new wine app, called Cincin it promises to be a "personal butler at your finger tips". Currently there's a Facebook page and Zac tells me they'll do a soft launch this month with the Grand Launch in October. The year that Zac came on the Busby trip we were treated to a Chardonnay Masterclass by none other than The Great Man himself. It was on a Sunday morning at Coldstream Hills and Halliday had set up the tasting room, opened the wines and organised everything himself. He refused to hear of taking a fee, so how do you thank the man who has everything? (at least in terms of wine). Well, Zac knew. Unbeknownst to me, every evening Zac was taking photos of each member of the Busby group, with his SLR camera set to a slow exposure while they "drew" a light picture in the air of a letter with an iPhone torch. When the photos were all digitally stitched together they created the banner you see below. When you get up close you can just about see each member of the group behind their letter. It's an amazing creation. We had this blown up, printed, framed and hand delivered to James Halliday as a thank you. In short, I think Zac's wine app has a bright future. 
More Asian Alumni get-togethers! Julien Boulard (Busby 2015) was hot on the heels of Alvin with a photo double entry, above left with Campbell Thompson (The Wine Republic, Busby May 14) and above right with Dave Brookes (honorary Busby host as erstwhile presenter of our Social Media Masterclass at Yalumba). Yvonne Cheung (Swire Hotels, Busby 2015) sent me this photo of her and Ned Goodwin MW. Ned has nothing to do with James Busby Travel but as the coolest MW in the world he get's a mention, as do Yarra Yering who are hosting us for the first time this October. 
Brad Royale (Busby May 14) he of the most poetic Twitter-feed-tasting-notes in the world, has just written an incredible article on recent trends in Australian wine for the Wine Align website in Canada entitled The Fire of Revolution. The article begins "The Australian wine market needed to light a fire, a purposeful one, a big one."
You can read the article in full here.
Brad has also put his money where his mouth is and brought in a number of direct shipments of Australian wine since his Busby visit, both for his own company and to be shared with other Canadian based Busby Alumni. Give me an army of a hundred Brad Royales and Australia would be back on top in North America within three years flat. 
In other Canadian news Jesse "Awesome" Willis (Busby 2015) sent me this photo of his newly arrived pallet of BK Wines which he ordered directly. He also leant on his local importers to bring in First Drops Touriga and Battle of Bosworth's Graciano. I love seeing commercial outcomes from Busby trips. Jesse you are AWESOMENESS itself.
Back in the UK, Matthew Hemming MW (Busby 2011) invited me recently to a fine wine dinner in Bristol, where amidst the sea of Grand Cru Burgs and fancy-pants Champagne he'd included a bottle of Ocean Eight Verve Chardonnay 2012, just one of the producers he's championed since his Busby trip. Meanwhile Donald Edwards (Busby 2010) has recently moved to an independent wine shop in Clapham North called Cellar SW4, where he's quietly building up an impressive list of new wave and natural Aussie wine (pictured here with a blurry bottle of BK pet nat). 
ALUMNI REUNIONS  
Our in-market reunions continue to go from strength to strength. As the size of our Alumni community grows, so does the number - of both people and bottles - at the reunion dinners. In May we had two reunions, Shanghai (photo above and bottles below) held at the famous traditional Shanghainese restaurant Jesse's, and in Hong Kong (below right) at Kuen Fat Seafood Restaurant in Causeway Bay. The rules of the reunions are simple, we select a BYO venue and everyone has to bring a bottle of wine from an Australian winery they visited on their trip. We had some amazing bottles at both reunions, the Bindi Original Vineyard 2006 probably took the biscuit for me. With James Busby Travel now in its seventh year I'm beginning to suspect these reunions, where for one night a group of wine trade professionals get together to share bottles and stories about their time spent in Australia, are one of the most powerful and long lasting legacies of the trip. You can't bottle a community. 
WINERY NEWS  
We're kicking off winery news in style with a story that missed the previous edition by a matter of days. The inaugural Women in Wine Viticulturist of the Year Award went to Dr Irina Santiago Brown of Inkwell Wines, McLaren Vale. Journalist Milton Wordley featured Irina in his Ten Questions feature which you can read here
Since the award was announced Irina's husband Dudley Brown has been promoted to the role of Vineyard Assistant for Life. Congratulations Irina, nice boots! 
Angela Brown at All Saints sent me these fantastic photos of a property they've just purchased called Mount Ophir Estate on 140 acres near the town of Rutherglen. Angela writes: "Mount Ophir is an extensive brick winery complex which was built between 1891 and 1903 by English family, the Burgoynes. The winery features very unusual curved gables and arched openings. There is also a three-storey tower with a conical roof, a gatehouse and a two-storey brick cellar which was excavated into the side of a hill. From 1891 until 1957 (when the winery closed), the estate exported 600 000 gallons of wine to England."
Imagine that, exporting 600,000 gallons to England. *sighs*  
The Browns plan to turn the historic property into accommodation, and you can follow their progress on the FB page here. It's kind of fascinating in a make-over-DIY-reality-TV sort of way, and inspiring to see that Angela, Nick and Eliza plus family and friends are doing the work themselves. 
Staying in Rutherglen, Susie Campbell sent me a smörgåsbord of news stories, all beautifully illustrated by the photos above. Clockwise from top left: 

Colin recently attended the Harvey Steiman tribute dinner in Adelaide organised by Wine Australia to recognise the American wine journalist's 30 years of reviewing the wines of Australia. In 2010 Steiman famously awarded his first ever Australian 100 point score to Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat. 

The Riedel Rutherglen Muscat glass has just been unveiled. I asked Col for some background on this development, and he kindly took the time to write the following: 
"The common misconception of serving fortified wines in small glasses has for a long time been of great concern and disappointment to the producers. Due to the small bowl and wide opening plus the small capacity of the small glasses, the aromas are not released as they should be and then they are lost. The Muscat of Rutherglen group was determined to find the perfect glass for muscat. The glass chosen has a wide bowl and narrows at the opening. This ensures the aromas are released upon swirling the glass and are concentrated as they leave."

Colin Campbell has been awarded Life Membership of the Australian Wine Industry by the Winemakers Federation of Australia, their highest accolade which honours an individual's outstanding contribution to the Australian wine industry. (photographed here with Wolf Blass and John Angove)

Colin and Prue Campbell attended the Room to Read Sydney Gala Dinner, which included guest of honour Jancis Robinson MW. Room to Read is a global charity working to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income countries by improving literacy and gender equality in education. The evening ended with the 450 guests enjoying Campbells 1986 Rare "Muscat of the Century". 

It's particularly inspiring to see so much good news coming out of Rutherglen in the month that Pernod-Ricard sadly announced the closure of Morris of Rutherglen. For more on that story see the recent issue of Wine Business magazine's TheWeekThatWas newsletter here

At the risk of being mistaken for an edition of TheWeekThatWas back in the days when it was all poodles and vanilla slices, here's a photo of two handsome, suspiciously youthful looking McLaren Vale winemakers holding up fish.
I know the one of the left is Joch Bosworth from Battle of Bosworth because it was Louise who sent me the photo. As for the other young punk, that's none other than Toby Bekkers (I had to ask). Don't know why you're looking so pleased with yourself young Toby, you should be throwing that one back in mate, it's barely a sardine. 
Louise tells me that her girls Peggy and Celia are adding to the diversification of the Battle of Bosworth brand at cellar door by contributing homemade lemon curd and almond bread. Oh, and I'm supposed to mention that Battle of Bosworth have a new importer in British Columbia called Landmark Selections. Nice 'fro Bossie.   
Wazza and the team at Seppeltsfield keep knocking it out of the park. Their latest innovation, a virtual reality tour of the winery and vineyards you can follow on your phone. Just click on the QR code below and get touring. Beam me up Scotty. 
Henschke's beautiful new website design could be subtitled Back in Black. What is it with these historic wineries (like Sepps) leading the way with technology? I think it's so cool how Henscke now "own" the colour black for their branding, refreshing in a world where every over-priced, urban design agency staffed by 12 year old hipsters will charge you a king's ransom for a wine label design on a white background with a subtle coat of arms and / or motif and tell you it "speaks" to Millennials. BS. Don't get me started. Bravo Family Henschke, you are too cool for school, old skool that is.   
In legal news, Barossa winery Two Hands are suing Teusner Wines for taking this photo without their permission. Also from Teusner, and in an update to our last edition's popular **SHED NEWS** feature, arch marketeer Howard Duncan wrote to tell me that "the brine chilled beer holder system installed throughout the winery (we believe a world first) ensures we are never at risk of drinking beer like the poms".
I can't tell if he's joking or not. 
See Howard's expert, in-depth harvest analysis in the Vintage Report section below. 
The race to the top continues apace in McLaren Vale with d'Arenberg's recent release of two new premium wines, 'The Old Bloke & The Three Young Blondes' and 'The Athazagoraphobic Cat', which has a whizzy animated label. I recently gave a masterclass in Shanghai on Alternative Varieties (or as I like to call them Appropriate). d'Arenberg kindly provided an earlier version called 'The Cenosilicaphobic Cat', which is Sagrantino with a smidgin of Cinsult. For me the most innovative aspect to this wine isn't the label but the thundering, unapologetic tannins. Big, warm climate Australian reds have always seemed a paradox to me, full bodied, yet often very low in grape skin tannin. Forget about your expensive oak, this is what a grown up wine tastes like, because as the Bordelais have known for centuries, it's tannin that makes red wine refreshing, not acid. 
If you're interested in cats (and who isn't?) you're probably all over the latest interweb youtubenet sensation, cats being scared witless by cucumbers. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Dr Roger Mugford. a specialist in animal behaviour, said, 
"I think that the reaction is due to the novelty and unexpectedness of finding an unusual object secretly placed whilst their heads were down in the food bowl."
Well we've all been there haven't we, especially the morning after a big night? Don't fight it, you know you can't stop yourself watching the video below. You're welcome. 
Jim Barry Wines have been awarded Winery of The Year by Matthew Jukes. On the recent MW trip Peter Barry said he'd been greeted in the office every morning for thirty years with "Good morning Peter". Then one day he was greeted with "Good morning Dad". And right there you have the beauty of a family owned business. 
Staying in The Clare Valley, Kilikanoon have recently launched a new super premium shiraz called Revelation. They tell me that "Revelation displays a symphony of texture and complexity, the greatest example of Kevin Mitchell’s craft. 
Alison Paulett is delighted to announce that their new restaurant "Bush Devine Cafe" has been short listed for the Hospitality & Catering Awards in 3 categories. I asked for a photo of the team, who are (L to R) Roger (chef), Ali, Sarah and Fenella. I hope that's a gang sign you're throwing up there Ali. 
This week saw the Young Guns of Wine Awards in Melbourne, with a number of Busby wineries nominated. There was a strong showing from the Adelaide Hills which included BK Wines, Commune of Buttons (Best New Act Award) and winner of Winemaker's Choice, Michael Downer of Murdoch Hill. Congrats all. I can't think of a punchline for this news item. 
Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins wines tells me that they've just opened up Ontario with a new importer called The Living Vine. They've also just bottled their first Vin Jaune styled wine from 2008 barrels called Bloom. Brad sent me a mock up of the label here. Nicole at Brash Higgins gets a special mention for single handedly negotiating Chinese customs to ship the wines for the Alternative Masterclass I recently gave in Shanghai. Thanks Nicole! 
Big news from the Yarra Valley. Giant Steps have announced the sale of their Innocent Bystander brand to Brown Brothers. "Our Innocent Bystander brand has grown quickly in markets across the world to a point where, to be honest, we have struggled to keep up....now it’s time to pass it on to someone whom we have a lot of respect for and who will take it from here to its full potential. Family owned and fiercely independent, like us, Brown Brothers will bring the skills, resources and care to the brand that it deserves. We are proud to pass the baton." Don't panic Busby travellers, we're visiting Brown Brothers this year so you'll get Moscato for breakfast.  
Melissa Gjergja tells me that Kooyong Wines is excited to be relaunching in the USA with Negociants International. Wines available from June. She also responded to my request for **BARREL NEWS** with this photo of their newly arrived 3000 litre foudres from François Frères. The fish pic of the wine world. 
One of my personal highlights of last year's MW trip to Australia was a masterclass tasting at De Bortoli given by Julie Mortlock, the winemaker for their Noble One botrytis semillon. It was fascinating to learn how this famous wine is pretty much a single vineyard wine (or a number of the same single vineyards). Congratulations to Julie for being nominated for Sweet Winemaker of the Year 2016 at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). This was the only wine from the Riverina that the MWs drank on the whole trip, if you don't count the jero of Yellow Tail merlot liberated from David LeMire MW's private cellar for the Gala Dinner's naked punting competition. 
Mac Forbes wines are pleaded to announce that they've just bottled the tenth vintage of two of their single vineyard Pinots, Woori Yallock and Coldstream. Apropos of nothing, in 2010 I held my fortieth birthday party in a 17th century cottage in the middle of a wood near Dorking in Surrey. Mac caught a train from London and traipsed all the way through the woods in near darkness with a rucksack full of booze just to attend the party. Mac makes better Pinot in big hair years. Discuss. 
*** TAX NEWS *** TAX NEWS *** TAX NEWS ***TAX NEWS *** TAX NEWS *** 
There's been a lot of debate in the Australian wine community of late regarding the proposed changes to the WET rebate. To be honest I don't really understand it so I'll refer you to people who do. TWTW here and Dudly Brown's Wine Rules blog here
I know, you've read all this way thinking "where's that photo of Robert Hill Smith leaning on a spade I was promised". Well the waiting is over, here it is! Yalumba are re-developing their Barossa Patchwork Vineyard. 35ha of existing vines have been replanted with 72,000 drought and salinity-tolerant clones of shiraz and cabernet. A state-of-the-art irrigation system, complete with a soil moisture management scheme, ensures efficient water usage with the aim of making it one of the most sustainable vineyards in the region. I'm also told it's designed to allow for climate change parameters for the next 100 years, which I think means planting pineapples. 
Vintage Report 2016 

McLaren Vale
Reagan and Drew Noon
This has been an excellent vintage, combining quality with quantity. The McLaren Vale harvest was early once again, brought about by a very dry start to the growing season and very hot weather at the start of summer. Fortunately the temperatures moderated in the months that followed and the four weeks before picking were cooler than normal and even included some refreshing rain. This made the quality of the 2016 vintage, slowing ripening to allow time for extra flavour development.

Louise Hemsley Smith, Battle of Bosworth 
2016 was the ”Early Bird” vintage, defined by a dry winter and spring, a record early start, hot December which accelerated ripening, plus 50ml of rain just before they started picking whites, which the vines lapped up. 

d’Arenberg 
Winter in 2015 was dry and although its rain volume was near normal, there were lots of days that only had 2mm of rain. Spring 2015 was very dry. October and December were hot and November was mild. The warm November days ensured that the vines had set well. The vines produced some of the biggest crops we have seen in recent years, but they weren’t overcropped. We were excited to receive a heavy down pour of rain in late January/early February, as it relieved the strain on the vines. The later picked grapes really benefited from the rain with no negative affect on them at all. The 2016 Vintage started a few days earlier than ever before, on 27 January. That same vineyard was picked on the 30 January 2015 and on the 31 January 2014. Veraison happened slowly, but ripening progressed relatively quickly because of the dry conditions. February was very mild, there were only a few days over 30 degrees and nights were cold. Sugar accumulation happened gradually through that period, however there was no stress on the vines. Parts of March were ideal, we had warm days combined with cool nights, so the concentration grew and the colours were strong.

Barossa Valley
Fiona Donald, Seppeltsfield
I was really happy with how the vintage ended up for Barossa Reds! Winter rain fall was average but spring was warm and dry; flowering conditions were ideal but careful irrigation management was critical to ensure leaf retention to achieve proper physiological ripeness. Veraison was early but late January rain gave the vines some respite…. meaning sugar development slowed while phenological  development tracked uniformly,  leading to great flavour and colour development in reds. Warm/hot days but cool/mild nights was great for fruit integrity and optimal physiological ripeness. So in summary,  fruit condition was fabulous, we could  pick fruit when physiological ripe and we vinified fruit with ripe, dark fruit flavours and ripe, smooth tannins. Throughput for the winery was very even so fruit achieved its appropriate time on skins, at least 7- 10 days. This holds for fruit selected for premium tawny wines – lovely fruit flavours with ripe tannins and no shrivelled berry character

Louisa Rose, Yalumba
The 2016 vintage is shaping up to be a stand-out, with strong indications of very high quality. The growing season started in the middle of a dry year, where the resulting drier soils combined with a warmer than average spring and early summer temperatures meant the vines got away at a cracking pace, growing and flowering well and setting a good number of bunches. January was less extreme with average temperatures and few heat spikes perfect for even ripening. Some late January rain provided very welcome refreshment for the vines and people alike, but vintage had started and wasn't to be slowed! Throughout the season the flavour and phenological ripening kept up with the sugar development and despite the challenges of the dry season vineyards ripened evenly and completely, once again proving the tenacity of the grape vine and the skill of our viticulturists. There is a fairly widely held view among wine growers and makers that vintage tends to follow Easter, rather than the calendar. It makes some sense to me as Easter follows the cycle of the earth and the moon - being the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the autumn equinox. And with this definition you can't get much earlier for Easter than this year. So "early Easter - early finish to vintage". Yields were about average, consisting of higher than average bunch numbers but smaller than average berry size - perfect for great flavours and colours (in reds) and surprisingly good natural acids. 

Howard Duncan, Teusner 
V16 was a ball-tearer

Adelaide Hills 
Ngeringa 
Vintage 2016 can be summed up in one word: huge! Huge in every sense of the word - enormous yields, fabulous fruit and beautiful wines, thanks to incredibly ideal weather in the lead up to and throughout the vintage months. A dry winter and spring led to an early summer with the vines working hard for moisture. Calm, favourable conditions at flowering however, meant fantastic fruit set across all our varietals. Truth be told, we fretted more than once throughout vintage over the stress the vines were under. A reprieve came in early February when soaking rains rejuvenated the vines - and without detriment to the ripening fruit. Much as irrigation through a dry season can help, there really is nothing like a good downpour to rejuvenate a grapevine. Moderate and dry conditions for the rest of the season meant steady ripening, rich flavour development and good phenological ripeness. Fresh acidity was also maintained despite overall warm temperatures.

Clare Valley
Kilikanoon 
2016 Vintage Highlights: Expect to see exceptional quality Clare Valley Shiraz. 2016 was an exceptional vintage for Kilikanoon and throughout Clare Valley, however it could have been a very different story if not for the kindness and timing of the weather as we approached harvest. A warm dry spring led to an early bud burst and rapid vine growth. The approach to vintage saw warm periods which had kept berry sizes small, accelerated ripening, and many vineyards showing water stress - particularly towards the end of January. Very welcomed and much needed rain arrived in the last week of January, helping to freshen up the vineyards. The rain enabled the vines to be revitalized causing the vines to recover with dramatic improvement to leaf and vine health. Berries increased in size and flavour. The cooler February conditions slowed ripening, increasing fruit character, intensity, and evenness across all varieties. We started picking Clare Valley fruit on the 11th of February with Pinot Gris.  Vintage progressed at a steady pace through February and into March. The quality of fruit was exceptional and most varietals arrived at the winery with above average cropping levels. We received some welcome rain on the 9th March which helped the later ripening varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache finish their ripening process. The 2016 vintage has been one of those years where both yields and quality have been exceptionally high. 

Rutherglen 
Nick Brown, All Saints 
The 2016 vintage weather conditions in Rutherglen were very similar to 2015.  We had stable weather during Spring with fairly frequent small rain events followed by a larger rain event in January.  It was then dry and warm for the remainder of the vintage with temperatures mostly around the high 20’s to low-to-mid 30’s during the day.  Interestingly, our harvest period was only about five weeks long from starting harvest (03/02/2016) to the end of harvest (09/03/2016).  This is much shorter in comparison to previous years of around nine weeks duration.  This forced some creativity in finding vessels to ferment in as the winery was tight on space due to the rush of fruit being harvested. Overall, the whites have pretty aromatics and great flavour (particularly the Marsanne) and the reds have an attractive savouriness and bright colour. The baumé of the Muscat reached 22.5 which is abnormally high for our vineyard but will provide fantastic blending opportunities.

Susie Campbell, Campbells 
The 2016 vintage was early and compact with near perfect grape growing conditions. A wet winter was followed by a short spring with summer-like weather and the ripening period experienced warm days, cool nights and Rutherglen’s generous sunlight hours. A top-up rain in late January provided the grapevines and winemaking team with a small reprieve before the tsunami of grapes started arriving. Chardonnay was first cab off the rank with delicate white peach and apple blossom aromas. The cool evening temperatures helped retain natural acidity levels producing elegant and well structured wines. The riesling and semillon followed closely with near perfect wine chemistry, and they are shaping as wines worthy of ageing. The roussanne and viognier are showing their usual affinity to the Rutherglen climate with lifted aromatics and refreshing varietal characters across the palate. The reds came off thick and fast, but are showing their typical power and grace. Expect to see fruit driven shiraz with flavours of blackberry and plum, while the durif has rich red cherry and bramble supporting an ironstone core. The warm weather continued through February and March which brought the muscat in four weeks ahead of schedule. Each batch spent two to three days on skins to extract as much flavour as possible before pressing and fortification. These will be classified post vintage and enter our soleras later in the year.

Mornington Peninsula 
Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate  
September welcomed the beginning of bud-burst leading to a dry and warm spring. October was 3 degrees above the average temperature and El Niño affected the amount of rain we received. Vine vigour was controlled due to the lack of rainfall with the canopy generous and open. Fruitfulness was up from the previous vintage and flowering and fruit set occurred unhindered. Veraison  commenced in early January. The period between January and mid March was warmer than historically usual and harvest began at the same time in February as recent vintages. Conditions remained very dry and warm throughout the harvest period, it was a compact vintage finishing in late March. The viticultural team worked steadily throughout harvest and delivered healthy and energetic fruit, with ripeness and acidity well balanced. At this early stage the wines are already showing great aromatics and excellent structural tannins. We look forward to seeing how they develop in barrel.

Many thanks to all those wineries who took the time to send in a vintage report. 

In other news 
As a direct result of last years Master of Wine trip to Australia the Institute has announced that it's annual tasting on the morning of the AGM in London in September will focus on the theme of contemporary Australian Chardonnay. According to the IMW website, "The wines have been selected to illuminate a hot topic in Australia and the UK. Has the search for restraint led to market-unfriendly austerity? Or has the reaction against the bold, ripe styles of the 1990s led to generally greater complexity, terroir expression and age-ability?" 

The event is open to members of the trade and guests, read more here

And finally...
Undeterred by accusations of self promotion I'd like to direct your attention to one of my other projects www.WineTutor.tv. an online resource for Master of Wine students. Since we launched last year we've attracted thousands of viewers from around the world, all content is free to view, you just have to register you details. We've recently added a documentary length film on Champagne, featuring in-depth interviews with winemakers from the major houses as well as an investigation of hot topics such as climate change, low dosage and the revision of the Appellation.  
We're inviting wineries and regions from around the world to come on board as sponsors and to provide locations for filming in 2017. If you'd be interested in communicating to our global audience of MW students and wine trade influencers please drop me a line at tim@winetutor.tv. Here endeth the promotional plug!
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