Tasting, testing, bottling and (almost) picking…

Vintage / Thursday, February 21st, 2019

It’s a super busy time for wineries around Australia. Vintage 2019 is well underway here in the Adelaide Hills, with several producers already picking the first of their fruit.


This morning, Rob has been out in the vineyard tasting and testing the Pinot Noir which is destined for our 2019 Sparkling.

The next few days are critical when it comes to selecting to the best time to harvest the grapes. Rob must be mindful of a number of factors including ripeness level of the fruit, weather and availability of pickers. He needs all his “ducks in a row” to ensure the grapes are at precisely the stage he requires to produce the wine he is envisaging.


So, what does that look like in reality…?

Pinot Noir almost ready to become Somerled SparklingThis morning, Rob collected a “representative” sample of grapes from the Summertown vineyard. To do this, random bunches are collected throughout the rows. You need to make sure that the juice you test is as best an approximation of what will end up in the winery if all the rows were picked.

Tools of the trade!

Then, you have to get the juice out. The grape grower’s instrument of choice today was the humble potato masher!

Then the juice is tested. You can do a quick assessment in the field using a piece of equipment called a refractometer. When Rob did that this morning it read 9 Baumé. That result was later confirmed by the more sensitive equipment in the laboratory where they came up with 9.2 Baumé.

Tools of the trade – including a “refractometer” (far left)

Rob likes have the juice in the tank come in at around 9.5 to 10 Baumé. In his experience, it always seems the field samples come in higher than the final tank sample. Given that the general rule is that the grapes should increase by 1 Baume per week at this stage, Rob is aiming to pick in the middle (or perhaps towards the end of) next week!

This will officially signify the start of Vintage 2019 for Somerled – exciting times!


More from the lab…

For those of you who enjoy the more technically, sciencey (yes, it’s a word) detail behind winemaking… the lab also came up with a total acidity (TA) in the sample of 18.2 g/L. That number is massive… one of the highest Rob has ever seen (usually it is around 7 g/L). No reason for concern though. That number will come down pretty quickly over the next few days. The acid is also reduced during primary fermentation and (especially) malolactic fermentation.



Could you back back a bit?

I know… there were a few terms in there that I skimmed over. Just so we are all on the same page, here are a couple of definitions to bring you up to speed…

Refractometer: it’s a handy little piece of equipment which measures the refraction of light through a liquid. In short, it can tell you the concentration of certain things (in this case, sugar) in the liquid,

Baumé: I would suggest going back to this post to scrub up on the details but basically, degrees Baumé (oBé) is the unit used to measure the sugar content of grapes.


Making room…

In other Somerled news this week…

Yesterday, Rob oversaw the bottling of both the 2018 Fumé and Rosé!

Here’s proof…

As always, Rob sticks to the same style from vintage to vintage. You’ll see very few surprises when comparing the 2018’s with their 2017 counterparts (thanks goodness!). But, according to Rob…

The 2018 Rosé is a touch paler than 2017, and maybe a little pinker. There is a slight chance 2018 isn’t showing the same amount of malolactic fermentation character as 2017 (but we’ll let you be the judge of that when the time comes).

Our 2018 Fumé seems fuller than 2017 was at bottling. It has really obvious Sauvignon Blanc aromas and flavours (all those wonderful tropical fruits etc). It is also surprisingly rich given how delicate the 2018 year was for Sauvignon Blanc.

While we’re on the topic…


Sauvignon Blanc picking crew update

If you missed the blog last week, you may have missed the opportunity of a lifetime (frankly, it serves you right for skipping a week)!

Ok, maybe that was a little dramatic! Anyway, we were excited to invite you to be a part of Rob’s expert (and not so expert!) Sauvignon Blanc picking team. You will be rewarded for your hard work with sticky buns, thermos coffee and bragging rights when you pour a glass of the end result for your family and friends.

For those of you who already have your names on the list, Rob will be testing the grapes very soon… keep an eye on your email for further details and a guestimate of when we will need your help.

Despite my dramatics earlier, it is not too late to add your name to the list. Simply send me an email!


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