2016 Vintage Report
The 2016 vintage saw a record harvest for Wild Dog Winery, thanks to excellent conditions during flowering and a warm, dry growing season. Harvest began early and the fruit condition was superb. Due to the nature of the season and plentiful supplies in the warehouse, we chose to forego harvesting fruit for sparkling base and instead concentrated on our range of dry table wines.
Harvest began in the first week of March with our pinot noir and chardonnay and ended in the middle of April with our cabernet sauvignon. Conditions at the start of harvest were hot and included a 40deg day, resulting in some fast and furious picking with prompt chilling at the winery to keep the fruit stable. As vintage progressed, the hot temperatures tapered off leading to somewhat of an Indian Summer, with mild, sunny days and a couple of rain events at just the right time to help with ripening and potential dehydration.
With cooler, dewy mornings and warm, sunny afternoons, we were very fortunate to develop noble botrytis in our riesling, which came in at a whopping 45 Brix of sugar. However we have just 280L of this precious elixir, which at time of writing, is still fermenting. Watch this space for a limited cellar door release later in the year.
The quality of fruit from the 2016 vintage led us to produce three new, very exciting wines slated for release in 2017. The first wine represents the quintessential Australian blend – a shiraz cabernet. Roughly three quarters shiraz and a quarter cabernet, the wine includes fruit from 5 of the 7 blocks at our estate vineyard, embodying different aspects, altitudes and orientations – very much a canvas of the site.
The second wine is very unique; a field blend of nine different varieties, both red and white, from our original vines planting in Block 2. All nine varieties were picked and co-fermented together, resulting in an exotic, complex, lighter red wine that speaks to the block and its voice as a whole, with emphasis on unity and diversity rather than a predisposition for individual varieties. An orchestra rather than a soloist. No additions were made to the wine and fermentation was carried out indigenously with wild yeasts, as it was with most of our wines from the 2016 vintage.
Our third new release constitutes an incredible amount of time and attention to detail. Over the course of a week, 71 buckets of our prized Block 1 shiraz were hand de-stemmed by the entire Wild Dog team; proprietors, wives, cellar door and kitchen staff alike. We managed to nearly fill a 1t tank with completely intact, whole shiraz berries that looked more like black pearls than grapes. The weight of the grapes was enough to slowly begin juicing those at the bottom of the tank, in what became a very slow, very long fermentation with minimal handling. Every couple of days I would scoop some grapes aside, revealing a well of fermenting wine underneath, and using a small jug wet the cap before closing up the well again. We have just two barrels (50 cases) of this incredible shiraz, which will be called “Sirius” and sell for $100/bottle.
At this point, we are readying ourselves for the bottling of our 2015 reds and 2016 whites in a couple of months. We welcome you to come visit us at the winery for a more intimate look behind the scenes at some of our exciting projects for the future.