I have described the 2021 vintage in the Piccadilly Valley as “near perfect”. Like 2020, the 2021 vintage was marginally warmer than average. What a relief to have two successive cooler vintages, (indeed 3 as I observe the evolving 2022 vintage), after the near unrelenting warmth of the previous decade of vintages.
The Chardonnay crop was very modest in the Tiers old block at 4 tonnes/hectare, not because of the flowering conditions in November 2020, but because the previous vintage had experienced very bad flowering conditions, reflected in low fruitfulness of the shoots bearing the 2021 vintage.
The Chardonnay grapes in the 42-year-old Tiers Vineyard ripened in still and cool air, sunny conditions, ideal autumnal weather. The seven-month growing season heat above 10ºC (Growing season degree days-GDD), was 1233ºC days versus the long-term average of 1076ºC days.
Tiers Vineyard old block yielded up its exceptional quality fruit on the 25th of March.
The hand harvested Chardonnay grapes from the Tiers Vineyard old block (1979), were chilled in trays in the cold-room to 2ºC.
The cold grapes were tipped into our gentle air-bag presses and the whole fruit pressed juice was pumped to tank before being gravitated to French oak barriques (one third new) for fermentation. The fermentation lasted two months in the cool autumn conditions. The wine was barrel aged on full lees until December of 2021 when it was clear racked from barrique and bottled in January of 2022.
Winemaker BRIAN CROSER
The Taste of the Wine
I had thought tasting the 2020 Tiers Chardonnay was one of those rare opportunities to describe a truly wonderful wine, better than almost all that have gone before. It seems improbable, but I can say the same thing about the 2021 Tiers Chardonnay.
The late ripening of a small crop in perfect cool, dry and sunny conditions, has defined a very special Chardonnay from the unique and distinguished Tiers Vineyard terroir.
The colour is pale lemon green. The aroma is shy but intensely fresh, mainly of Chardonnay fruit, ripe nectarine with a hint of yeast cashew and oak spice. The aroma compels the need to taste, which amplifies the intensity and freshness but with refined fruit sweetness and texture. Finally, the cutting edge of acid and slight grapefruit finish of a wine that may not yet have the power of the 2020 Tiers but has a finesse that is remarkable.
As with my tasting note last year you may think I have over-reached. Just try the wine for yourself.
2021 Tiers Chardonnay is “a very special vintage of a unique wine defined by the truly distinguished Tiers Vineyard terroir”.