The season began well, with good opening rains in late April. The rain petered out a bit in May and June, before returning with very good falls in July to give us optimism for the beginning of the growing season… A warm August led to an early bud-break and the weather continued warmer than average through September despite a sudden return to cool and wintry conditions for a week at the end of the month.
October was lacking a little rain but temperatures were average until it suddenly became quite warm (temperatures into the low 30’s) in the last few days of the month. Unfortunately the unseasonal heat returned with a vengeance a week or so later in early November, with the period from the 8th until the 19th being ridiculously hot, finishing with a maximum of 41.8 degrees (Noarlunga) on the 19th! During this 12 day period, every day except the 16th and 17th was over 35 degrees!! Unfortunately this coincided with flowering time for the Grenache (as well as Cellar Door opening!) and the vines dropped most of the potential crop. Many flowers burnt off in the heat without even successfully pollinating and most that did pollinate, fell off in the days after as the heatwave continued.
Amazingly, November was hotter overall (higher mean maximum temperature) than any of the summer months to follow…in short, it was much too hot, too early! Fortunately the Borrett family vineyards in Langhorne Creek fared better, the flowering being later by a critical week or two there. Even so, the Cabernet decided to take a year off and set only a very small crop but the Shiraz set very well.
Temperatures for the rest of the season remained slightly above average but avoided extremes (except for 4 very hot days from 8 -11 January which burnt many exposed berries, especially on the young Graciano) with rainfall low, bringing about an earlier than usual harvest. This was particularly so for the Grenache which was carrying only a very small crop.
We picked all of the Grenache (both blocks) on Friday 26th February, more than 2 weeks ahead of normal. We had to pay the pickers by the hour instead of the bucket to enable them to make a decent wage…which made picking costly but that’s what happens in years when you get such a low crop.
The fruit was in lovely condition and the berries were larger than usual as the vines tried to compensate for the reduced berry number. The young wine looked lovely – perfumed, soft and complex. The Shiraz at Langhorne Creek was a highlight. The fruit appeared in perfect health and ripened steadily, giving us time to choose our moment for picking (a relief from the rush to pick of 2007, 2008 and 2009).
We began on Sat 13th March with fruit for the Dark Noon Rosé (released last year) completing the balance of the block in 3 picks by Thursday 18th. It was a good-sized crop and all the signs looked promising for quality. The ferments proceeded smoothly on natural yeast and the wine looked dark, tasting spicy and firm.
Our last pick was the Cabernet on March 26. As expected, the crop was tiny, not giving enough to produce a useable quantity of Reserve Cabernet, so there’s no Reserve Cabernet from 2010 (or 2011…here’s hoping for a kinder 2012 harvest!).
So that was the vintage in 2010 – more weather dramas leading to another reduced range of wines and the wines themselves quite classic and reserved as the heat happened too early to impact directly on the wine style. They are quite different from the 2009 wines released last year, being lower in alcohol, with more restrained personalities.
Thinking of comparisons (though no two vintages are ever the same) they share some characteristics with the 2004 reds. Not blockbusters or showstoppers, their strength is their lovely natural balance. We have sought to retain this through minimal processing.
They are wines which invite closer scrutiny. They are more evocative than emphatic in nature. I suspect their fine structure will amply reward cellaring and recommend you give them a few years or more in the cellar if possible before consumption.
We trust you will enjoy them for many years to come.
“Quality good – the wines show a degree of elegance and firmer tannins and will benefit from cellaring. Below average quantity overall, with a very small Grenache crop and almost no Cabernet but an above average sized crop of Shiraz. – Drew”
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