Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pikes Wines Come to Town

A few years ago we visited the Clare Valley in South Australia and enjoyed the wines there.
The Clare is a cool climate area and is famous for its white wines, especially Riesling.
One of the wineries that took our fancy was Pikes. While there we joined their wine club to take advantage of specials offered during the year together with free freight and have been buying their Rieslings, including some excellent clean skins, and Pinot Gris ever since.
To celebrate the release of their 2012 wines they took their tasting room 'on the road' and we were invited to join them at Revisi's Hotel at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach.

It was a nice venue and I guess around 50 people turned up to taste the new vintage whites as well as some older wines including their reserve reds.
And they served some pretty good canapes during the night as well.
The 2012 "Traditionale" Riesling was of the usual high standard. The reserve "Merle" Riesling, while typically steely dry, seemed to lack something on the middle palate compared to previous years. But this is a very young wine just out of the tank and initial impressions can be deceiving.
The Pinot Gris was also of high standard.

             We have never ventured much into Pike's range of reds although the Clare can produce some good ones as we found out on our 2010 trip.
We thought the reserve Sangiovese and Shiraz particularly tempting and with the rather large discount and free delivery on offer for this night only, we succumbed to ordering a few bottles.
I am happy to say that my wine budget so far this year has not been exceeded.
Am still well within my end 2019 limit.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some Occupational Hazards of the Vineyard

Working in and around the vineyard can have its wildlife problems.
I am ever on the watch for snakes. There are red belly blacks around and while quite timid they can become aggressive when cornered or trodden on early in the season when they are a bit slow getting out of the way.
We had the first of the season in our back yard the other morning, a big one, about 2m long. A bite from them is an immediate emergency drive to the hospital.
Also ticks, leeches and wasps can be a bit of a nuisance.
It's only when you are doing some digging that another danger becomes apparent.

                     I found a suspicious hole the other day when doing some remedial work on the post stays and poured some dilute acid down. This morning I found a dead spider by the hole.
It was either the really venomous funnel web spider or perhaps a mouse spider. It's hard to tell the difference.
Both can give you a nasty bite and the funnel web is renowned for its highly toxic and fast acting venom.

The male of Atrax robustus, the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, is probably responsible for all recorded deaths (13) and many medically serious bites. However no deaths have been recorded since the introduction of an anti venom in 1981. In the picture below you can see the quite large fangs.

Some mouse spiders have a very toxic venom too and a bite can be potentially as dangerous as that of the funnel web. Fortunately funnel-web spider anti venom has proven effective in cases of mouse spider bite.
We are aware that the antivenin is carried by our local hospital.
A further inspection found a few more holes around the place so really it is a matter now of being a little bit vigilant and wearing gloves when working around the places where they may live.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bud Burst / Vintage 2013 Begins

With Spring in the air the early grape varieties have stirred into action.
Bud swell (woolly bud) is the first thing you notice and then bud burst.
The Pinot Noir is followed by the Semillon with the Tempranillo close behind.
The later variety Cabernet Sauvignon is a few weeks behind those.
Over the years this event  has been getting earlier and earlier.


I estimate that in the 15 years I have grapes in the ground, bud burst is now 3 weeks earlier than  it originally was ie.irrefutable evidence of climate change.
September is usually our windiest month. The westerlies can howl for days on end. Father's Day 2010 was the worst we have had with gusts up to 120km/hr.
This year however is not far behind. One week in and we have had days where winds have gusted to 70km/hr plus.
This can damage or blow the new shoots right off the vine.

But so far so good.
When the shoots are around 10cm long it will be time for the first fungicide spray.
Then the work will start in earnest.

Monday, September 03, 2012