The smoke or should I say the cloud of fungal spores is dissipating after the 2011 harvest and we now have a clearer view of quality and quantity.
This is a really difficult situation to manage.
The quantity of quality wine produced from most areas will be vastly reduced and the quantity of really bad wine will be vastly increased. The reputation of the vintage will be dictated by the latter and although there will be many gems in the cellar of fruit discriminating producers it will be hard to convince the influencers and consumers of their merit. I have seen this before in 1969 (truly awful), 1974 (truly, truly awful), 1983 (awful) and 1989 (just dilute and bad). 22 years since the last bad vintage is not a bad outcome in the scheme of agricultural uncertainty.
There will be lots of industry pressure to avoid bad-mouthing 2011 but in the end someone will have to write the regional vintage reports and give the ratings that will define the vintage. The undeniable truth is that 2011 was not merely an “interesting year” and that there will be a shortage of fine wine and quality fruit which will reverberate into the future.
In the end we decided not to harvest the old plantings at Whalebone Vineyard because of the ubiquitous presence of Botrytis, not raging but just a few berries in each bunch that foreshadowed difficult winemaking in a vintage that will not inspire fine wine consumers.
Across the road the younger closer spaced Cabernet was selectively harvested clean of Botrytis and fully ripe.
At Foggy Hill we harvested clean and ripe Pinot and at Tiers clean and ripe Chardonnay.
Will any of the 2011 wines reach “single vineyard” designation? It is doubtful but only time will tell and if they do they will be worthy of the status. BJC.