Most would be aware by now that we’ve endured the effects of La Nina this past summer, but other than going to the beach for a swim a little less than you’d like, or turning on the heater instead of the air conditioning from time to time, what follow on effects can we expect to see for the 2021 harvest?
This Season for our Grapes
Well more than you’d might have expected, the cooler and cloudier conditions brought to the South Eastern corner of Australia, other than increased fungal pressure La Nina also brings a plethora of positives for growing grapes...
Firstly, let’s look at the increased cloud levels. What this basically correlates to is less direct sunlight, grapes are much like people, increased direct sunlight increases the melanin concentration in our skin in an attempt to prevent harmful damage from UV radiation.
Smooth Texture for our Eau de Vie
Grapes do this as well, but instead of melanin they produce phenolics, particularly in the form of tannins to protect themselves from sunburn. Reduced tannins in the grape skin directly relate to a decreased amount of tannin in the finished wine and the resulting spirit producing a smoother, rounder Eau de Vie for our brandy and gin ranges.
Secondly, the cooler temperatures result in a longer ripening period where sugar ripeness and phenolic ripeness occur slowly and more in sync with one another. Reduced temperatures also help the grape retain more of the natural acids produced earlier in the growing season with positive flow-on effects to ferment health, mouth feel, and ageing potential in the resulting brandy and spirit.
Chardonnay Flavour Profile
Flavour profiles in Chardonnay will also shift from cantaloupe and honeydew that can be expected in warmer years to white peach and nectarine and nuttiness in the form of cashew will also shift to almond and nougat.
Cooler Season Characteristics for Shiraz
Personally I’ve always likened the flavour profile of Shiraz from hot, warm to cool climates to correspond to black, blue through to red. So this cooler season I would expect the flavour profile to be more in the red currant, blueberry, blood plum and whiter pepper spectrum with possible hits of olive rather than the big black currant, plum pudding, liquorice and black pepper synonymous with premium hot Shiraz growing regions.
But How Does all this Relate to Our Products?
Well for Ochre our barrel aged brandy, a cooler season allows for a brandy that will portray a finesse with floral notes, stone fruits and nougat with longevity in tail. This La Nina season will produce the perfect base component for future Ochre blends to build from, it will also be perfect for large format barrel ageing to produce an XO single barrel release much like our 2011 Brandy which just so happened to be a strong La Nina season. Our Shiraz hearts for our gin range will be vibrant and fruity with less pepper and spice.
I for one, am looking forward to the season and the resulting spirits to come.
Time to Run the Stills
All that's left to do now is run those stills, pumping out the good times. But don't take my word for it, come on in to our purpose built distillery on the Mornington Peninsula and judge for yourself.
Daniel Calvert - Bass & Flinders Distillery Production Manager.