The last week has been among the most telling of the season for someone wandering through the vineyard sampling grapes.
The first thing to note has been that we have had another 15mm of rain. Not enough to worry about but given that the nights are cooler now and the daytime temperature peaks a little lower (although the last week off started with some warm days), there has been a little more sustenance for the struggling younger vines.
For a paranoid winegrower looking for signs of ripeness, this has been a big week. Brix levels have been moving up (Merlot approaching 22 brix, Cabernet and Syrah 21 brix, Sangiovese over 20). Leaf levels still mostly healthy.
The most exciting thing has been tasting the grapes. Pips are colouring up well for most varieties – esp Merlot and Sangiovese (such a pity we have so little this year as this variety has never looked so good), with Cabernet and Syrah clearly evolving from a week before and on their way. And better still skins are thick and much riper, less astringent, although for cabernet this is not going to be a light tannin year. Unsurprisingly berries are at the small end of the spectrum so that skin to juice ratios will be high – hence the importance of getting those tannins adequately ripe. There are still plenty of acids, but not jarringly so.
And, just as critically, the taste of pyrazines (think green capsicums) has vanished overnight from the cabernets and petit verdot (the latter incredibly sweet tiny berries that will be blended with the cabernet sauvignon).
Fingers remain clenched in a crossed position and eyes glued to the radar.