Even though winemaking is all about predicting the unpredictable, fermenting Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in February is a first for Clare’s Jim Barry Wines.
Matriarch Nancy Barry, last week said “it’s unreal, I thought I’d seen it all after 65 vintages, but I was truly shocked when I visited the winery that Jim and I built in 1973, to find it was almost at capacity by the middle of February.”
According to Nancy’s son Peter Barry, Managing Director of Jim Barry Wines, the Clare Valley has experienced some unusual weather in the lead up to the 2015 vintage.
“We had a very dry spring which was ideal for budburst and this led into our coolest January in 23 years, although rainfall remained very low,” Peter said. “We were finally blessed with some significant rainfall on the 10th January (42.4mm), which really saved our vintage and led to wonderful flavour development and acid retention in both our reds and whites.
“But then we had a series of heat waves in February, which brought everything on very quickly.
“These conditions led to the ripening of Shiraz at the same time as Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Picking Cabernet Sauvignon in February was definitely a first. The Cabernet Baume levels were on average 14° and they had reached a perfect tannin ripeness so it was important to act quickly. We made the right decision – the ferments are fantastic.”
In another first for the business, third generation winemaker Tom Barry made the decision to hand pick fruit from the family’s famous Florita vineyard at night, with only head torches for light.
“Hand picking at night has allowed us to maintain the highest quality in our Riesling fruit,” he said.
He even convinced dad Peter, to manage the pick in the early hours of the morning.
“We picked all of our Riesling with a Baume of 11.5-12.5 with approximate pH of 3 and TA of 7-8g/L.
“They all look incredibly fresh and lively. I think 2015 will be a fantastic year for Riesling. We are already tasting those bright lime citrus flavours with that classic natural acid backbone, which is so unique to the Clare Valley.”