Well it happened. The pickers chose. The most diverse group of new Australian arrivals including some very tall people from the north of Africa arrived to harvest our diminutive vines. Foggy Hill was harvested on Tuesday and Wednesday in the most spectacular autumn weather imaginable. Sitting on the back of the bin behind the tractor, carefully sorting through the fruit as it was being tipped and continuously tasting the grapes, my fear was that the sugar was too low and the acid too high, that we were picking immature grapes. The vines are yellowing at an accelerating rate (not for the lack of moisture) and are clearly on the verge of dormancy so there is no value in leaving the grapes on the vine. The analysis on crushing defied my fears, 23.3 Brix, pH 3.6 and acid 5.7gpl, malic acid acceptable at 2.5gpl but definitely in a different range to the hot 2010 vintage analysis of 1.5gpl.
The grapes were too translucent in the bin for my complete comfort and I expect it will be difficult to extract a “new world” Pinot colour although tannin structure from the cool grown seeds and skins should be significant.
The alcohol will end up at a modest 12.7%, but that’s where flavours and tannins are supported and accentuated by the water of wine into a savoury balance and not absorbed into the liqueur mix of high alcohol and residual sugar from struggling fermentations of overheated grapes.
The 3°C cool must from Foggy Hill is in 24, 0.8 tonne tubs and is cold macerating awaiting the start of fermentation on Saturday. My youthful Chilean apprentice, Nicolas Chavez is in charge of keeping the tubs under anaerobic conditions until that time. The biggest test has been passed and Foggy Hill has handed over its precious grapes to the winemakers who can still muck it up.