BOF in the vineyard:
20 March 2013
Five teams of BOF finalists, named after their enologist mentors; Lapalus, Forbes, Harrop, Glover and Downie, drove up to Mount Langi a few days before the shiraz was due to be picked. The white vintage was already underway. Damian Sheehan, MLG viticulturalist, gave a fascinating tour of the vineyards. Aaron Drummond, International Sales & Marketing Manager, and Kate Petering, Chief Winemaker, conducted a Langi shiraz tasting. The 2008 looked amazing! Perfumed, complex, full of flavour and finesse. The current release, 2010 is looking stunning too, full of exotic perfume from the whole bunch component, with a seamless, juicy, lingering palate.
The focus of the day was the Kneebones vineyard, for this is where it the BOF challenge begins, with premium shiraz from the sandy loam granitic soils. Kneebones is just down the road from Langi’s cellar door, in Warrack. Planted in 1996, it’s one of the key components of the Cliff Edge Shiraz.
Each team will hand pick 1.15 tons of fruit, from rows 1-75. Working on around 3 kilos per vine, that’s approximately 400 vines for each group. Hopefully in October there will be about 75 cases of BOF wine to sell. The wine which scores the highest from the judges, and which does best in the marketplace will win the challenge.
The first decision, which rows to choose, is critical. The ripeness of the grapes, whether they are shaded/unshaded will have a big impact on the style of wine each team will make.
We wandered up the rows, tasting the delicious shiraz berries. Sheehan advised, “Pick on flavour rather than Baume. Look beyond the sugar in the mouth for primary fruit flavours, such as raspberry and blueberry. Don’t use pepper flavours alone as your criteria, for this character comes and goes. Check out the sugar/acid balance. Taste the skins for ripeness; the aftertaste should be tannic but not green. Crush the chewed skins and look at the seeds. They need to be physiologically ripe. They should be brown and have a nutty flavour. Look at the lignification of the stems.”
What style will each team choose? Will they all make a dry red? Is there potential for a rose or a sparkling? Maybe even a blanc de noirs? Will they let the vineyard do the talking? Or will their wine scream winemaking artifice?
Perhaps the final word on this goes to Grant Van Every; “If the aim is to make a wine which is 100% whole bunch, cold soak, with wild fermentation in 1000 year old amphorae…not all of this might be possible.”
But some of it certainly is…