The week that was
2017 Yarra Valley Wine Week
I have finally exhaled after the week that was last week. Yarra Valley Wine Week is a biannual event where we invite trade and media people up to the Yarra Valley for 2 days of intense tasting, training and playing. This year the event was kicked off with two amazing presentations on Yarra Valley soils and their role, if any, in the quality and style of our wines. Rob Gell (the ex-weather forecaster) gave us an amazing talk on the geomorphology of the Yarra Valley. This is basically the study of rocks and soils and where they have come from (going back hundreds of millions of years). Turns out the soils around Coldstream were first laid down by upper Devonian acid lava eruptions around 450 million years ago. These eruptions created two cauldrons at the Cathedral Ranges. Here in Gruyere we have Silurian Devonian soils versus Hoddles Creek which has Devonian lavas and Gembrook which has acid lavas. Is all of this gobbledegook? If so, the take home message for many of us was that our soils are older than Burgundy soils and we should be writing that in to our story.
Following on from Rob Gell was Mark Krstic from the AWRI who also spoke about our soils and spent some time discussing how vintages are, generally, starting earlier and are more compressed, with the varieties ripening not weeks, but days, apart. It was interesting to learn that Chardonnay (admittedly in McLaren Vale) is ripening 1.87 days earlier each year while Cabernet sauvignon is ripening 2.81 days earlier each year. This means the time between Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon ripening is getting shorter each year.
The following day saw the group of attendees broken in to two. Group 1 visited Tarrawarra for a ‘Soils and Site’ tasting of Chardonnay and Pinot noir. Dylan McMahon (Seville Estate) and I moderated a very lively tasting about whether there was an impact on wine style from the soils and sites. We divided the wines in to what soil type they were grown on and then subdivided each soil group in to sub region. The general consensus was that the difference between the red and grey soils was more evident with the Pinot noir.
While we were analysing our Pinots and Chardonnays, Group 2 were at Oakridge tasting ‘Classic and Future’ wines with Steve Flamsteed and Sandra de Pury. I was unable to attend this tasting but by all accounts it was amazing and everyone was excited to see what the Yarra Valley has been up to.
The tastings were swapped around in the afternoon and hosted by Clare Halloran (Tarrawarra) and Simone Steele (Medhurst) and Sarah Crowe (Yarra Yering) and Tim Shand (Punt Road).
Thursday morning was the ‘Vibe’ tasting hosted by myself and Steve Webber (De Bortoli). This tasting was a presentation of the new & different & innovative & modern & ancient wine styles being produced in the Yarra Valley. It featured less well known grape varieties, field blends, skins fermented whites and was a fascinating snapshot of some of the less traditional things happening in the Yarra.
We were lucky enough to have 3 wines selected for the tastings – our 2015 Alena Chardonnay and 2016 Alena Pinot noir for the ‘Soils and Sites’ tasting and our soon to be released 2016 Wayward Child Pinot gris. It was a privilege to see our wines in such exalted company.
Related Tag: Yarra Valley Pinot Noir