Cool climate sceptics take note.
There are those in higher latitude viticultural climes who claim ownership of “real cool climate”.
I think this is mostly meant to imply the Australian main land and California at least are incapable of producing “real cool climate wines” and are immune to the effects of vintage variation and excluded from the benefits of achieving grape maturity in the last gasp of autumn as the leaves fall off the vine.
This is the corollary of the belief that the Australian mainland is only capable of producing rich, ripe Shiraz to international fine wine standards.
Such climate chauvinists and myopic wine style critics are being contradicted by the gathering pace of recognition of Australia’s mainland cool climate Chardonnays as world leaders for refined versions of this important wine style.
Without wishing to project climate paranoia or “protest too much” I have been feeling distinctly and helplessly chilly in vintage 2011 at Foggy Hill on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We harvested the Pinot from Foggy Hill on the 5th and 6th of April against a heat summation from the beginning of October to the 31st of March of 992C days which is marginal for ripeness in this precocious variety. 11 days after harvest the fermentations of the 3 clones and 2 blocks of Foggy Hill Pinot in their twenty six 0.9 tonne tubs are grinding out the last grams of sugar in fermentation. They have been hand plunged daily and reached a peak temperature of 35C about 3 days ago. They smell like Pinot, wild, briary and spicy while their parent vines are turning yellow and dropping leaves as we watch. The moisture laden soil is transmitting the cold autumn signal to the roots which produce the senescence hormone, abscisic acid. It’s this flush of abscisic acid that created the late surge of ripeness for which we nervously waited before harvesting Foggy Hill Pinot. Was there enough heat? Was the final gasp of ripeness enough to give us the colour, tannin and flavour to go with the already evident peacock’s tail of Pinot aroma? Another 10 days on skins, then to the press and straight to barrique and only then we will have an idea whether the hard work of vintage 2011 has succeeded.