2008 Five Rows Pinot Noir Vinification Notes

2008 Five Rows Pinot Noir:

Now that we’ve been at this venture for a few years, it’s interesting to look back at my old blog entries upon the release of a new wine.  This entry from October 6, 2008 aptly tells the story of our 2008 Pinot Noir:

“Vintage ‘08 is upon us and to this point things have been…well…in a word …WET!!  Enough rain already.  I mean just when I thought we were in the clear we got doused by the remnants of a hurricane, and for the record: I don’t like Ike. Thankfully, the last couple of weeks have more than made up for the rain, with plenty of sunshine and perfect ripening conditions for the early varietals.

As per usual, the “Heartbreak Grape”, Pinot Noir, lived up to its moniker and provided lots of nervous moments and second guessing.  In fact, one day in the vineyard while pondering a harvest timing decision, I found myself singing aloud to the Clash hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go”.  The Pinot were clean but slightly underripe, with threatening weather on the horizon (“If I go there will be trouble / And if I stay it will be double”).  Ultimately, we decided not to pick and wait out what suddenly became Hurricane Ike.  All the water led to some berries actually splitting and roused us into action.  Led by a Pinot-loving mother hell-bent on saving her crop, the three of us spent two mind-numbing days cutting out individually split berries and underripe clusters.  On September 16th and 17th we finally hand-picked our first two tonnes of fruit.  In the end, what came in was ripe, clean (thus receiving the Wilma stamp of approval) and fermented into some really intriguing stuff.  I experimented with a new yeast strain this season called W15, which after pressing today, is the early favourite to put into our 2 new Sirugue barrels.”

Fast-forward to 2011 and that Pinot-loving mother can be proud of the wine she helped save.  The 2008 is reminiscent of many past wines featuring Lowrey Pinot.  A classic blend of bright cherry fruit, some floral notes and spice dominate the nose.  Flavours of black raspberry and vanilla bean resolve into a pleasingly soft mouthfeel.  Tannins are much more approachable than the 2007 Five Rows Pinot Noir at the same stage.

Technical Data: 12.6% alcohol,  5.4 g/L residual sugar,  pH 3.45

Price:  $50/bottle

Barrels: 5

Production: 106 cases

2008 Five Rows Shiraz Vinification Notes

2008 Five Rows Shiraz:

The tale of Lowrey Shiraz began many years ago with a firm handshake.  Our relationship as a grower for Creekside Estate Winery started in the late 90’s and continues to this day.  Shiraz is a staple for Creekside, grown and vinified to perfection year after year.  Given this success, we naively agreed to plant some of these vines soon after our partnership began.  Little did we know just how sensitive and vigorous Shiraz could be!

This combination of winter sensitivity and summertime vigor is a challenging prospect for the grape grower.  Early in their lives, these vines saw some pretty severe winters that almost led to their extinction in our vineyard.  Massive re-plantings and constant re-trunking were needed to restore their numbers.  Our hard work and patience was rewarded with some stellar vintages in the 2000s, ultimately inspiring me to take a crack at making my own Shiraz in 2008 (and yes, it will always be “Shiraz” not “Syrah” to us because we planted it for an Aussie!).

The fruit for this wine was harvested on October 23 following some pretty dodgy conditions in the summer of 2008.  We initially thinned the vines down to two bunches per shoot, but had to remove additional clusters in the fall, as it became clear that ripening would be a challenge.  We hand-harvested about one tonne of fruit from each of our Shiraz clones (7 & 100), then sorted before de-stemming into fermentation bins.

A long cold soak was employed to help with colour extraction and tannic development.  I chose to ferment the slightly riper Clone 7 fruit with RX60 yeast, but opted for F15 with the Clone 100 bin.  Ferments were carried out at an average pace, with four daily punch-downs.

One new Taransaud barrel, two older French and a lone American oak barrel were used for the maturation process of this wine.  Malolactic fermentation was carried out in barrel.  After 24 months in oak, the final blend was assembled and allowed to mingle for about 8 more months.  This exciting wine was bottled April 6th, 2011.

Aromas:  blackberry, black currant, lavender, smoked game

Flavours:  dark chocolate, coffee bean, raspberry

Production:  105 cases

Technical data:  13.0% alcohol,  pH 3.30,  TA 8.55

Price:  $50.00/bottle