A look back at Vintage 2019
Because I am slack as with writing this blog, there are no posts from last years harvest. Now that the 2019 wines are mostly finished malolactic fermentation, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back and assess the vintage. It was the 10th harvest for Heaps Good Wine Co. It all started in 2010 with 11 barrels (around 3000 bottles), and in 2019 we did close to 50,000 bottles worth. It was also the 25th harvest for me personnally since I stumbled into the industry way back in 2001. And to mark those two milestones we were blessed with a pretty good year.
The season wasnt textbook, but the disease pressure, while higher than we would like was a walk in the park compared to 2018. Crop levels were naturally pushing high, so we had to be aggresive in our canopy management in order to keep them under control. We had 1,5 hectares of new vineyard come into production, and the excitement of what that parcel will one day be able to produce continues to grow.
Things were tracking beautifully until 26th August, then we got hit by a hail storm in our Oplotnica vineyard. That kicked us into action, we harvested on the 28th, picking up all the damaged fruit of Sivi and Modri Pinot and leaving the healthy grapes to hang. The damaged grapes we pressed for Sparkling base, so we will have to wait and see how that goes, lets just say it has lively acidity.
It was by far the biggest harvest we have ever done, and there was a recurring theme of overfilling the fermentors in a bid to maximise space. In the middle of harvest the cellar was completely full, we were storing empty tanks outside, and it was like a rubix cube, moving everything around to get to what you needed.
We made a couple more Pet Nats this year, it seems that every man and his dog made one in 2019, so maybe five vintages is enough for us and we can leave it to the rest now. But anyway, I wanted to try something different, so we made a red one from Zweigelt, its rustic and funky, and actually quite drinkable. Of course we did the rose again, like every year, this time we made it exclusively from Modra Frankinja, picking the fruit from the young vineyard specifically with Pet Nat in mind.
It was raining Pinot noir with the new vineyard coming on line, we tried to keep a reasonable crop on the young vines in order to try to retain balance in the fruit, I avoided whole bunch and kept the plunging to a minimum and was careful not to keep them on the skins too long(17-20 days). It is always difficult working with fruit from young vines, but I am quite happy with how the wines turned out. The old vineyard pinot all got a percentage of whole bunch, and with the exception of one ferment which has gone super reductive in barrel, the wines are the best looking at this stage since 2016 harvest.
We purchased some ‘red grapes’, that may or may not be Refosk from Prekmurje, so that was a little different, destemmed into open top fermentors and treated like we treat the pinot, the wine has turned out ok, very delicate and clean fruits, but absolute ripping acidity, time will tell on that one, might need to get control of the vineyard before taking that fruit again, it could of done with being cropped a bit lower.
The last thing to come in on October 14th was some more ‘red grapes’, that may or may not be Syrah, Rado had been bitching that he was the only one cleaning the destemmer during the harvest, so I had promised him I would clean it after the Syrah. No problem, chucked it in 100% whole bunch.
The wines are looking pretty good, and overall the quality was really nice, so keep an eye out for the 2019s a few years from now. Cheers
Spring has sprung
Long time since I was on here, as usual I seem to neglect this blog, and as usual I promise to try harder. Anyway, the weather has been really nice so far this year, and the vineyard is off to a great start. It would of been nice to have had a proper winter, but it is what it is. Budburst has been fairly even and things are looking good so far. We will likely start shoot thinning this coming week. Hoping that the warm dry weather continues through the season, one can dream.
Meanwhile in the wine cellar, with the mild winter and warm early spring temperatures most of the 2019 wines are already nearing the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wines are showing really good potential, and I am excited to see how they end up come August/September.
I will be back on here in the coming days with a look back at last years harvest, and try to give you all an insight into all the crazy stuff we got up to. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy a glass or two of Heaps Good wine.
Just remembered that I have a blog….
Sooooo, you could say that I have been neglecting this blog a little bit, I guess we should try and catch up a bit since the last post in spring. 2017.
Well, the season 2017 was tracking superbly, that is until July 7 when a huge hailstorm hit Ritoznoj, huge in terms of the time it lasted and the damage it did. Though the hail itself was rather small, the destruction was immense.
We tried our best to save what we could, spending two weeks meticulously going through the vineyard and removing the damaged berries from the bunches. The result was that we managed to salvage around 20% of a normal harvest. Thankfully our vineyards in Oplotnica remained in great health, so all was not lost.
The wines from 2017 are currently resting in barrel, though soon we will be racking them in preparation for bottling, it was a challenging year but I am still quite happy with the overall quality of the wines, with the exception of the Modra Frankinja which we will probably not bottle, but given we have only one barrel it is not the end of the world.
That brings us round to 2018, another crazy year, the new normal is that there is no normal, I guess. The vines burst very early in spring, and the weather through the season was one of two things, hot or wet. This meant a lot of disease pressure on the vineyards, particularly from peronospora(downy mildew), it seemed like a never ending battle, in the end we survived ok, and the vineyards were in reasonable health heading into the harvest.
Harvest 2018 started on the 29th of August, stupidly early, we already have the Pinot noir from Oplotnica and the Zweigelt from Ritoznoj in the cellar, in general it is looking good, and it’s an exciting time of year to start seeing some results from the season’s worth of work. Anyway, we need to get back to it…
Spring has well and truely sprung, it has been a very warm March, and the season is upon us around three weeks earlier than last year.
This has created a hectic few weeks, with a push to finish up the pruning in a shorter time frame than usual. Just to add to the stress levels we planted an additional 1,5 ha, a mix of Modri Pinot and Modra Frankinja. Which has meant a hell of a lot of extra work for this time of the year.
Now that everything is done it is time for the cellar, and to turn my attention to selling some wine to help pay all the bills from this new vineyard!!!
2016, how’s it looking??
A normal year? Well not quite but after a series of extreme vintages, 2016 almost feels like a normal year. Somehow we managed to avoid all the crazy around us. We got such a small amount of damage from frost and hail that it seems selfish to even mention it when some nearby colleagues suffered such catastrophic losses.
So, in the end the weather was kind to us, and the vintage ran smoothly. We expanded into a second cellar, where a good chunk of the whites were made this year. Whites have strong acidity, with good ripeness levels. At this early stage, Sivi pinot is looking similar to the 2011, with a tad more definition given the higher acidity.
Chardonnays are funky, austere, and tightly wound, that is, the barrels that are finished ferment, there are still 4 or 5 barrels that have gone into hibernation mid fermentation, given the low cellar temperature, they won’t start ticking along again until spring next year.
Pinot noir was again early, with potential alcohol at picking between 12 and 12,5%. Great flavour, and reasonable acidity levels, make things much easier in the cellar. All the pinot noir ferments saw at least 10% and up to 25% whole bunch. Maceration times were between 18 and 21 days.
Blaufrankish was a bit later, as the weather cooled off at the end of september, start of october. When we did finally pick, the grapes came in at 6 degrees celsius, which normally would be fantastic, but given the weather and thus the cellar stayed cold, it took 14 days for them to warm up sufficiently that they could start fermenting. All the reds are now safely tucked away in barrel, awaiting the warmer temperatures of spring to start MLF.
Overall 2016 looks like being a good year for us, how good exactly we will have to wait and see as the wines develop.
On and on…
The weather has been quite changeable the last few weeks (global warming), from 14 degree days right up to 34 degrees. From rain all day to hot and dry. Last week was hot, really hot, well into the low to mid thirties, and humid, a risk for Oidium. The days were starting off at 18-20 degrees at 5 am and the sweat was pouring off the brow by 8 am.
The vines have been getting plenty of water and with the hot days are growing like crazy, it is hard to keep up. The poor weather, especially periods of cold during flowering has caused some problems and fruit set is not perfect. Some bunches are untouched, some have a small percentage of missing berries, and then some bunches are completely ruined. This is not the end of the world for us as we usually reduce the crop anyway, just this year nature is doing some of the work for us.
Last night saw some hardcore storms, with very heavy rainfall. Hail, and reports of 50mm of rain falling in one and a half hours in the region. We escaped the hail, no damage to report in our vineyards. Though the cellar was flooded, and sunday morning was spent cleaning the winery’s drain (yes, I did smell good after) and evacuating the water, the romance of winemaking.
To Vienna and back… to the vineyard
Marija and I were in Vienna over the weekend to attend the VieVinum wine festival. It is held in the majestic setting of the Hofburg Palace. Nearly six hundred winemakers attended, mostly from Austria, quite some from Italy, and five of us from Slovenia (represent!).
We met some really cool people, and had a blast. Made some good contacts, and created a bit of interest in the wines. Things look good with regard to opening up a couple of new export markets, but of course we will have to wait and see, no deal is really done until the money is in the bank.
A combination of overdoing it on the first two days, and feeling happy with the contacts we made saw us bailing early on day three, though in true heaps good style, we still gave the people the opportunity to get what they want…
Which brings us back to Slovenia (never thought i’d be feeling good to be coming ‘home’ to Slovenia) and the beautiful peace and tranquility of the vineyard. Flowering is just starting to kick off in the Pinot noir and Chardonnay and the bees are out…
What a wonderful time of the year. Cheers.
When terroir doesn’t play by the rules…
Who said making wine in Slovenia would be boring? Never ceases to surprise. I had been thinking of what I should write for this blog post, and then it came to me, in the post….
What’s that? I hear a lot of you ask. Well that is essentially a piece of paper that says that our 2015 Rose is illegal, or to be more precise that it has failed accreditation.
How is this possible? I hear you ask. Well apparently the total acid is lower than the minimum allowable amount written in Slovene law. And here is where we have a problem, because this is a wine that has been made in a very minimal intervention way. Nothing added(except for sulphur, once as juice and once post Malolactic fermentation) and nothing taken away. Clearly the low acid is not a result of being picked extremely late, as the alcohol is just 12,66%, in fact 2015 was the earliest that we have ever picked this vineyard. This is a wine that is a representation of the grapes from those particular pinot noir vines on that particular piece of dirt in the year 2015. A wine of terroir.
The kicker, for this wine to be deemed legal I would have to add acid, something that is illegal here…
Anyway, now that it is illegal, just maybe it tastes even better…
Life after Death
Healthy signs of recovery in the small parts of the vineyard that suffered from frost damage. The resilience of the grapevine is a thing of beauty.
These secondary shoots will not be as fruitful and are already well behind the rest of the vineyard, this will cause us further problems at harvest as any fruit that is on these shoots will ripen later than the rest. We will have to be very careful this year, we will wait and see the development, but it might be that this fruit is cut on the ground anyway, to avoid unripe characteristics in the wines, time will tell…
Into the bottle…
This week we managed to find time to get a couple of the 2015 wines into bottle. This is much earlier than we would normally be bottling, but the warm vintage conditions last year has given wines that tend to be developing at a rate much faster than normal. So with an eye to catching and retaining the freshness in these wines, we decided to pull them out of barrel much earlier, though i would say still at a stage of development similar to previous years. First up was the rose, just two barrels made, about 70% going into magnum (love those mags!!). This is a funky and unique rose along the lines of the 2013 vintage. Five days of skin contact then drained to old red barrels for fermentation, spontaneous fermentation and spontaneous malolactic, six months in barrel then racked to inox for one and a half months, bottled without filtration.
The other wine, was the 2015 Sivi Pinot, this wine is sourced from three tiny vineyards, two in Oplotnica and one in Ritoznoj. Classic Heaps Good Sivi, this will be a crowd pleaser. Whole bunch pressed directly to older french oak, natural fermentation, sulphured in spring to inhibit the malolacitc. Racked out of barrel after seven months and bottled two weeks later.
Given the very hands off nature of our winemaking, the process of racking from barrel and bottling is a real shock to the wines, they simply are not used to being pumped around. As a result the wines take quite some time in bottle to recover, so unfortunately for all of you we are still not likely to see either of these two on the market until the end of the year at the earliest.
A nervous week…
After an early and stellar start to the season, last week came as a shock to the system, both mine and the vines, as plummeting temperatures descended on Slovenia and much of Europe. Tuesday morning saw the worst of it with frost affecting some of our vines lower on the slopes. Modra Frankinja escaped almost unscathed, loss in Chardonnay is less than 5%, Modri Pinot is a bit under 10%, with Zweigelt the worst effected at around 20%.
Wednesday morning there was no threat of frost, though it was a cold day with heavy afternoon and evening snowfall. The snow covering the vines acted as a protection against any further frost damage on Thursday morning, despite temperatures briefly dropping just below zero.
The snow was gone by mid afternoon, there was risk of more frost on Friday morning with temperatures forecast to be as low as -3 degrees celsius. Fortunately the cloud cover hung around and we escaped unscathed.
Thankfully it looks like it is all over now. Spring frost, who knew? After eight years in Slovenia this is the first time I have experienced spring temperatures anywhere near causing damage to vines, in fact I have been told it is 20 years since such cold temperatures this late in April. I am glad we got away with such a small amount of damage given that many others in Stajerska have lost much more. Sometimes mother nature just isn’t on the same page as us….
I started pruning on Thursday, I do enjoy this time of year, solitude in the vineyard, a chance to reflect, and what perfect pruning weather we are having at the moment…
2014 the year that was….
As always its been a long time since I posted anything, thus time to update you all on whats been going on here at Heaps Good. This was a difficult year to say the least, as many of you will know there wasn’t much of a summer this year across a lot of Europe. The thing that did it in the end was the rubbish weather in August. We struggled with disease problems in the Sivi Pinot and Modri Pinot in particular, thus losing a lot of quantity. Chardonnay also took a hit, down 30% with only Modra Frankinja really coming in at a normal crop level. Sugars were low, acids high. It really wasn’t good, but only time will tell how these wines end up.
The majority of the Modri Pinot this year has gone to rose production, we made only one barrel of red, which I picked personally from one small section of the vineyard where the soils are a little weaker and the vines tend to be a little more advanced. The rose was macerated for two days before being pressed to barrel for fermentation, not typical rose winemaking, but we don’t want to make a typical rose.
We had one major crisis this year, when we lost our press due to a hole in the membrane midway through the Sivi Pinot pressing. This meant that for the remainder of the harvest we were driving around to friends to use there presses in the small hours when they were not required. We got through it all in the end though.
We managed to get the Sivi Pinot and Modra Frankinja 2013 bottled prior to the harvest, and in the last few weeks have bottled the Modri Pinot and Chardonnay. 2013 is the first year we have made a Chardonnay and I am extremely happy with how it has turned out. In fact I am happy with all the wines from 2013 and would say it ranks alongside 2011, but maybe without the same concentration in the reds. We bottled a little funky rose from 2013 also, made from Modri Pinot and fermented in barrel, it stayed in barrel for 13 months, went through the malolactic fermentation, and is truly unique in the way it tastes, only 250 bottles though.
On the other front, we have seen business with our export markets in Belgium, Germany and Austria all going well, with our Austrian partner steadily increasing volume, stoked to have recently got our 2012 SIvi Pinot and Modra Frankinja in to Austria’s best restaurant Steirereck. We attended a small fair for Slovenian winemakers in Bratislava earlier in the year and are happy to have found some business there as well. If you find yourself in the Slovak capital be sure to stop into Vinimka for a glass of heaps good.
Right now we are in chill out mode, letting the 2014s do their thing in barrel, and the 2013s do their thing in bottle, with a release date slated for spring next year. It’s nice to be able to put the feet up and take a break after a hectic and stressful year.
Vintage Down Under
Yabby Lake and Heathcote Estate 2014
So some of you may not know but I have escaped the cold of the Northern hemisphere for the warm days of sunny Heathcote in Victoria, Australia. I figured why not keep you up to date with what’s happening down here. I am working for a company called Yabby Lake, which is headed up by Tom Carson, a winemaker who I worked for in 2008 at another winery. Yabby Lake consists of two distinct brands; Yabby Lake is producing Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir from the cooler climate of the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne, and Heathcote Estate is producing Shiraz and Grenache from the much warmer Heathcote region, 1,5 hours north of Melbourne. Fruit from both vineyards is processed in one winery located on the Heathcote vineyard.
To date we have done the majority of the Pinot Gris and made a start on the Pinot Noir. We had one small parcel of Chardonnay at the start of the week and have begun on the Heathcote Shiraz. Several heat waves over verasion has slowed the progress of the Shiraz, and resulted in what looks like a compact hectic vintage. It’s going to be non stop from here, it’s about to get crazy.
End of Harvest Report part IV
PART FOUR: BLAUFRANKISCH
I feared greatly for the Blaufrankisch this year, it just didn’t seem to have the time to ripen to where I would like. We picked it on the 18th of October, which was very late and quite surreal. Much like the Pinot noir I was never wowed by the wine during the ferment, but now that it is in barrel it is looking very interesting indeed.
Harvest: 18th October
This wine has a really nice balance between the two ends of the ripeness spectrum of Blaufrankisch. It has hints of the ripe plums and blackberries found in super ripe Blaufrankisch integrated with some spicy pepperyness often found in wines from cooler locations. As with the Blaufrankisch I have made in the past it is very intense and generous. The wine was fermented in two open top fermentors, total maceration of 28 days.
Summary: Crowd pleaser
End of Harvest Report Part III
PART THREE: PINOT NOIR
This was not the easiest season to grow grapes, the winter seemed to go on forever. The late start meant we had a shorter growing season and that the harvest was always going to be much later than previous years. This presented a few issues with the reds, most notably physiological development and also grape health, with the longer the grapes stayed on the vines the more risk of bad weather having a negative effect. One super positive from this year though was the acidity levels, meaning that this is the first year when adding acid to the Pinot noir was not required. We had made some changes to our farming this season to try to retain more acidity, by having a more open canopy very early in the season and leaving a little bit more fruit on the vines. As it turns out the year had naturally high acids so we will need to try again next year to see how much influence we can have acidity levels.
Harvest: 3rd October
Six fermenters, two of with contained approximately 12% whole bunches, I may well have done more had it not been for seriously injuring my thumb during the processing and having to go to hospital, leaving my student helper to proceed alone until my return. Picked on a nice sunny day but very cold, grapes came into the cellar at 7 degrees celsius. Cold maceration for 12 days. Total maceration between 27 and 35 days. These maceration times were quite long for me with Pinot, normally we are around 21-24 days, but this year the tannin development was much slower. Pressed to tank, racked to barrel after 24 hours. At no point was I really excited about these wines, but it is an interesting one as they are showing very well from barrel right now. Super elegant, fruit bomb, nice acidity, and smooth tannins. It will be very interesting to watch these wines develop over the next year.
End of Harvest Report Part II
PART TWO: PINOT GRIS
This years Pinot gris represents a return to form for me, or more so a return to the style I like more. For those of you who liked the 2010 vintage then you are in for a treat with 2013. It has taken me a few years of experimentation to finally settle on a style and learn how best to work the vineyard to produce that style. So all is looking good with the whites from 2013.
Harvest: 21st and 28th of September
Whole bunch pressed directly into older french oak barriques. Extraction approx 520 litres per tonne. Wild fermentation. Just one of the ten barrels has not finished fermentation yet 🙂 I have never been a big fan of Pinot gris as a variety, in fact I outright dislike it, often I find them to be very fat and oily, lacking acidity, and see it as an overly phenolic variety. Lets just say its not a very subtle variety. I have always produced wines that are more near to Chardonnay than Pinot gris. Not that I am trying to make Chardonnay from Pinot gris grapes, but more that I believe that Pinot gris is best honoured when produced in a more elegant style. One important aspect of doing this in my opinion is to press very gently, and have low extraction. The more you press the more nasty Pinot gris characters you get in the wine 🙂
Summary: Remember 2010?
End of Harvest Report Part I
So I guess its about time I brought you my end of harvest report, but because I’m lazy and short blog posts are easier to write and more fun to read I have decided to bring it to you in a four part series, one for each variety. So without further ado
PART ONE: CHARDONNAY
The 2013 harvest was our first with Chardonnay. I have had my eye on this vineyard for some time, it is owned by the same guy who owns the vineyard where we source our red grapes from, though is not in the same location. It is still part of Ritoznoj but is on the otherside of the hill from the cellar, near to Gabernik. The vineyard is on a very nice south east aspect, it is quite a low vigour site for this area. The site seems to retain acidity very well with is a major positive for me. I am very excited about the potential not just for this wine but also future vintages from the site.
Harvest: 15th September
Whole bunch pressed to tank. Extraction of 615 litres per tonne. Natural fermentation in used barriques. Two of the six barrels are still ticking along, not sure that they will finish fermentation this year given the cellar is starting to cool down, hopefully they will be dry in spring.
I spent a few days last week in Rome, my first time in what turns out to be a fabulous city. My reason for the trip; to take part in Dalla Slovenia con amore, a wonderful event organised by the lovely Andreja Lajh. It showcased five Slovenian winemakers and two chefs to an eager 300 odd Romans. The other winemakers represented were Marjan Simčič, Movia and Klet Brda from the west, and our near neighbours from Loče, Sanctum. The delightful gastronomic treats were courtesy of Ana Roš from Hiša Franko and Uroš Fakuč from Restavracija Dam.
I presented the four 2011 wines, all poured from magnum. The feedback was very positive across the board. I took particular joy in the surprise the foreign (to them) variety Blaufrankisch created in several guests.
During my whirlwind 42 hour stay in Rome I took in most of the famous sites, I must say that the first time you lay eyes on the Colosseum it is mighty impressive. Also managed an afternoon by the seaside, it’s still pushing 20 degrees there, just lovely. All in all a great experience, it would be better if it leads to some business, but either way it was fun. Oh, and I’m sorry Paris but I now have a new favourite city.
What’s up with this weather…
So it’s the end of May, and it is bloody cold again. The weather so far this season has been erratic to say the least. The winter never seemed to end, pushing well into April and like a tightly wound spring, boom straight into summer, with temps in the mid 20s. The vines took off, growing at a super speed, making up for lost time given the late start. And now, it’s cold raining, and miserable, and the vines are in pause mode almost, with growth slowing right down to a crawl. It gives an opportunity to breath and get everything in the vineyard under control, but it is much nicer working outside when the sun is shining, and I feel better when the vineyard is dry.
The 2012 wines in barrel are all well into malolactic fermentation, though the colder weather has pushed the cellar temperature back down so is not exactly helping them finish. I am excited by the development of the wines. Finding time to label 2011 wines has been difficult, but it does provide a welcome excuse to be inside when the rain starts falling.
On the sales side of things, each month is slowly increasing, as we push export sales, with Austria performing extremely well and we are slowly looking to open up greater sales in Italy. We are hoping to open up a few more export markets in the coming months. The next month or so will slowly see the 2011 wines being released into the local market. We have decided to focus our sales on export, and are trimming our local sales to just a few select customers, ones we like and that pay us on time (for those of you who live here in SLO, you will know just how hard it is to get paid). I will keep you all updated on where and when the wines will be available.
Thanks for reading
Photo: Alessandro Griccioli
So over the weekend I was down in Bulgaria at the Balkan International Wine Competition. In addition to a competition they run a festival over two days and that is why I went. The festival is open to the public and gives wineries like us a chance for a bit of exposure. It could only be described as a roaring success. The wines were the talk of the festival, and it was really nice to get so much great positive feedback from so many people. One real highlight was getting a mention in Jamie Goode’s blog. I also became a knighted #winelover. The whole festival was very well organised and run. I had a great time, met some fabulous people and drank some great wines. Can’t wait to go back next year.
Finally, some action…
So we have budburst at last, just to show you how far behind 2012 we are here are a couple of photos both from our Pinot Noir vineyard in Ritoznoj.
The photo on the left, taken with the rubbish camera on my phone is today the 24th April, and on the right is from the 12th of April 2012.
Onward and upward
So yesterday I braved the weather and went to the cellar to top the barrels, for the first time this winter the temperature in the cellar has dropped below 10°C(9,5). While I was there I pulled samples of each of the five remaining barrels of 2011 Modri Pinot. These barrels were intended to make a reserve wine. This morning was spent assembling various blends to find the best result. It is looking like the final blend will be around 700 litres utilising wine from four of the five barrels. It will have 30% new oak, 30% 1yr old oak and 40% 3yr old oak. Im really excited about the potential of this wine, hopefully you folks will like it also. As always time will tell. Hooroo
It’s winter and it’s bloody cold
So was just looking back at what I have been writing here, and it seems that every post tends to start the same way; with me apologising for how long it has been since I last posted something. Oh well. Sorry its been so long. This time I promise I will try harder to keep you up to date. Not much is happening at this time of the year. It’s winter, and it’s bloody cold. The vineyards are covered in snow. The wines are also in hibernation so to speak, it is around 10 degrees Celsius in the cellar, so much to cold for malolactic fermentation to take place. They should slowly come back to life in the spring as temperatures warm up. I can’t wait for spring! Oh and for those of you who didn’t see, here are some nice words about our Modra Frankinja by Marijan Močivnik
Summary of Vintage 2012 so far
Well, sorry folks, its been a while since I wrote anything here. I thought I would give you a summary of how the 2012 harvest turned out for us here at Heaps Good Wine Company. Overall it seems to be an ok year, though time will prove to be the ultimate factor.
It was an extremely trying growing season with damage from hail causing headaches. In the Sivi the crop was reduced by about 30% as a result. The damage in the red vineyard was worse as in addition to the hail that hit the Sivi on 14th July the reds were hit again on the 29th July, after we had already completed the green harvest.
Sivi was harvested much earlier this year than we have ever before. It is looking very nice, with firm acidity and intense up front fruit. I have still not decided on weather any barrels will go through malolactic fermentation this year, I personally prefer more mineral style with a good acid backbone. The reds were coming in at similar times to 2011. Red ferments were quick and short this year, with the Modri seeing only 19 days on skins and Frankinja 20 days. Tannin development was much faster than in past years, and the wines may lack a bit of the intensity that is found in the 2011’s but they have fine structure and perhaps more finesse. But as I said earlier, time will tell, I will update you again after the Malolactic fermentation finishes, and we have a better idea of how the wines will develop.
I intend to be much more active with this blog in the future, and keep you all up to date.
The season so far…
Hi there, sorry its been a while since we posted anything, but we are finally getting an opportunity to catch our breath. It would be a bit of an understatement to say that the 2012 season has been challenging so far. We have had very warm weather which has pushed forward the grape development, while we have also had to deal with two hail storms. The first of these, on the 14th of July effected all of the vineyards.
Damage in the Modra Frankinja, Ritoznoj. Photo taken 17.7.2012
Damage to the leaves in the Sivi Pinot in Oplotnica. Photo taken 18.7.12
Also in the Sivi Pinot, Oplotnica.
As the above photo shows, the Sivi Pinot vineyard got hit quite hard, however all the damage is only on one side of the canopy. This meant that when we went through and made the green harvest we were able to cut out any bunches with a lot of damage.
The result of the green harvest in the Modra Frankinja. 18.7.12
About 60% is cut off, Modra Frankinja.
This year we have been quite aggressive with the green harvest in the red varieties, dropping around 60% of the fruit, In the Sivi we dropped around 40%, but were more concerned with getting rid of hail damaged fruit. We have also this year taken on a new Sivi Pinot vineyard, it is quite small, only 830 vines, but maybe could give us another three barrels. It is in Okoška Gora, about 5km east of Oplotnica and 70m higher at around 410m above sea level. So has a rock star view.
Our new Sivi Pinot Vineyard, Okoška Gora. 28.7.12
With all the hot weather we have been having the grapes are developing much faster than normal, vintage 2011 was also very early, yet we would be about 5 days ahead of last year in the reds, and closer to 8 days ahead of last year in the Sivi Pinot. My biggest concern with this weather will be the low acidity at harvest.
Verasion, Sivi Pinot, Okoška Gora. 28.7.12
So just when things looked to be going well, our red vineyard in Ritoznoj got hit again by hail on the evening of the 29th of July. 🙁 It will make for a challenging harvest, we will need to sort a lot in the vineyard when we pick, and probably even do a second sort in the winery.
Hail damage to the Modri Pinot, Ritoznoj. 30.7.12
The grapes are now looking a lot better, the hail damaged berries have dried up quite well, without any nasty bacteria starting to grow. It will be a mission to keep the damaged berries out of the ferments, but its what we have to do, I did say earlier in the year that we would have to pay at some stage for all the beautiful weather we were having, well I think two hails storms is enough payment, here’s hoping we can get through to harvest without any more.
Verasion in the Modri Pinot, Ritoznoj. 30.7.12.
In other news we have added some more customers, the wines are now available at Vinoteka Svetinje in Jeruzalem, Isabella in Maribor, and TOZD bar in Ljubljana!
Nick and Marija
A copy of the summer newsletter we send to our mailing list
We hope this newsletter finds you all in good health. Just a quick update on how everything is going here at Heaps Good Wine Company. Really happy that this warmer and drier weather has come along, the vineyards are in great condition. Flowering was good, and even across most blocks, with the exception of the Sivi Pinot which is a bit patchy as it is every year. Some of you may have seen via facebook that we planted a new vineyard this year. It is an extension of the Oplotnica vineyard where we currently get the Sivi Pinot from and also Chardonnay for our Sparkling wine. We have planted a very high quality clone (115) on a very low vigour rootstock (Riparia Gloire) and we are very excited about the prospects of having some fruit off this vineyard from 2015.
The 2011 barrels are looking really nice, the Sivi has beautiful balance and intensity, and I am excited because we have four barrels this year when last year we only had three, so that should mean close to 1200 bottles. One of the four has been allowed to go through the Malolactic fermentation, but has finished and I am really happy with the acidity, given that the grapes had quite low levels at harvest it was one of my big worries. So the wine is now sitting on gross lees and we should expect to bottle in September and release towards the end of the year.
The reds are both still going through Malolactic fermentation which makes them quit e difficult to taste at the moment, but I am very impressed with the elegance and finesse of the Modri Pinot this year, and the nose is like an explosion of cherries. We used up to 35% whole bunches in the ferments this year and this has added another dimension and more complexity. The Frankinja is very earthy and rich and quite concentrated, it looks exciting also.
We are now selling at least one of our wines in 8 restaurants around Slovenia so if you’re looking for a nice meal out then we suggest the following fine dining establishments;MaK, Maribor Pavus, Lasko Brioni, Kranj Hotel Triglav, Bled Promenada, Bled Hisa Raduha, Luce La Storia, Celje Asado, Levec
Also, if you live in Novo Mesto you can buy our wines from the fantastic little store; Malamacka
We would like to increase our sales of wine direct to the consumer(that means you), so you can now buy our wines through our Facebook site, where we are offering better prices for our fans, and don’t worry payment is processed through Paypal so is 100% safe. You can also contact us directly to buy wines, or if you would like to visit the cellar. For more details go to www.hgw.si
We will be pouring wines at Hisa Stara Trte in Maribor during the Lent festival, so come down on Saturday the 23rd June and Thursday the 5th of July, starts at 7pm we look forward to seeing you there. We will make sure we keep you all informed about any other upcoming events we are involved in.
All the best,
Nick and Marija
So this is our first post here on our new site, we will leave the older posts up for anyone who is still interested you can check them out here. Welcome, and we hope you will find what we have to say interesting.
Nick and Marija