There are two things to consider when reporting on any vintage-quality and quantity!
The quantity of wine from the 2007 harvest was very small. Our smallest crops (probably) ever on most blocks. This was due to the drought. Specifically, the very warm and dry conditions at flowering which resulted in widespread berry shatter (what the French call coulure) where the berries are aborted after flowering, falling like snow from the bunch when tapped with the finger a week or so after flowering. A depressing sight!
What was obviously going to be a small crop was reduced further by on-going hot and dry weather through the summer, leading to reduced berry size. At harvest, which began historically early with the heat and small crops combining to speed the ripening, we were still surprised to find just how little fruit was there.
Maybe the limited foliage on the vines this season had made the crop appear better than it was (I’ve never seen such short, spindly shoots on the vines).
There were plenty of bunches, something that is determined largely in the previous season (which had been climatically kind) but there were very few berries per bunch. This was especially noticeable on the old Grenache around the winery where we had many bunches with 5 or less berries! It takes a lot of these to fill a bucket!! We had to pay the pickers by the hour to pick them as you could never make a days wage paying by the bucket. Of course it was an act of kindness to the vines to relieve them of their crop as well as desperation not to waste a berry this year which led us to pick them at all as the quantity of grapes we picked could not be justified in terms of cost. We took all day with a team of pickers to harvest just 0.7t from 5 acres off the winery block (with this fruit going to Eclipse).
All of the vineyards were not as badly affected. In fact the young vines across the creek put on a brave show, setting and ripening quite a decent crop for the vintage (this fruit all goes to Twelve Bells at present until the vines become fully mature). They looked pretty exhausted by the end of it. It’s almost as though the old vines knew something from experience that the young ones are still learning (if it’s that dry and hot at flowering, let the berries go!)
Also BJ’s old Grenache, whilst down by around 60% on a normal harvest, fared better than the winery block. The fruit here looked beautiful.
The Borrett 20 Rows Shiraz Block at Langhorne Creek managed quite well in the conditions (Shiraz likes the heat generally but this was too much!) with the crop down about 50%. The small berries looked perfect and the grapes ripened quickly, giving our earliest ever harvest of this block in two picks on 23rd and 28th of February. That is, all of the Shiraz was picked before the start of March!
Unfortunately the Fruit Trees Cabernet found the going much tougher (the Cabernet block usually varies in yield quite a lot with the conditions). We could see there wasn’t much fruit there but it was still a shock when we harvested just 2.86t from the block which in a good year can give us 12t! The Cabernet was the last block to be harvested, on 15th March, which is around our normal start time!
It was a whirlwind vintage but we weren’t troubled by lack of fermenter space!
And so to the wines. Fast ripening along with small berries resulted in quite prominent tannins being an early feature of the wines in 2007.
After pressing, the wines looked quite firm and a little bony, without as much flesh as usual. They did however possess excellent length and I was optimistic they would turn out OK. I was delighted to find that by the end of the next summer the wines had put on a lot of weight and sweetened up considerably. This trend continued up until bottling. They look better every time I taste them. What’s more I expect they will continue to improve in the bottle, possibly needing some long term cellaring before they are at their very best, especially in the case of the Reserve Cabernet. That said there is plenty to enjoy about them in the meantime and I hope you will enjoy yours whenever you decide to drink them, these essences of 2007.
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