Cool Climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Bended Knee Vineyard

Earlier Happenings...

Anyone with a small vineyard needs to be multi-skilled and able to juggle a number of tasks at one time. It also has its compensations-like some great lunches whilst ‘researching’ where to place the wines. Here is a taste of what this week has been like.

These last few hours have been spent on hands and knees, in amongst the close planted vines (luckily, wearing knee pads). As well as being closer together, these vines are trained much lower and consequently a pain (literally) to prune, shoot-thin or de-sucker.

Next, a brief window to get the new vines in the ground – ideally in the next few weeks to take advantage of the small amount of rain we have had recently and the resulting moisture in the ground. It is already time to start going through to shoot-thin the vines - reducing the number of buds and shoots to the number we aimed for when pruning. This photo above (taken today) is luckily the chardonnay which is first to come out. The vines always put out more shoots than desired, often two emerge from the same point on the vine-this creates a canopy that is much too dense, shorter canes and over-cropping. It is labour intensive to go through and shoot-thin but essential to get the desired vigour and quality. The regular cycle of putting out preventative sprays will also start in a few weeks – this goes on every 10-14 days over the growing period (or at least until February when the nets go on).


Saturday saw the Ballarat Wine Show. No medals or trophies, but there is the opportunity to have a decent chat to the Chairman of the Judges which I took advantage of - and learned a lot. For me, this is the reason to enter wine shows, to compare your wines with your peers and to improve them where possible. Congratulations to the local wineries that did pick up medals; these included: Michael Unwin Wines, Mt Coghill, Sinclair of Scotsburn, Tomboy Hill, and Wightwick.


Sunday was the inaugural Taste Ballarat, a food and wine showcase for local products on the back of the wine show. A decent and well informed crowd kept us busy all day, with some strong interest in both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We were able to offer a vertical tasting of three Pinot Noirs, including the previously unseen 2003. This wine was our first actual vintage, but made in tiny quantities (20 cases). It was bottled without filtration and after sufficient time in bottle showed good potential in terms of flavour and structure. However, the wine wasn’t as bright or clear as desired, so it remained unreleased and at the back of the cellar. We ‘rediscovered’ the wine a few weeks ago and were amazed by the contents. Still ever so slightly opaque, yet it had developed beautifully in bottle. It has a forest-floor, funky, earthy nose and a texture (for want of a better description) that I liken to ‘chocolate’. Our biggest problem now, is what to do with the wine. The quantities dictate a selected release, perhaps to some restaurants that don’t mind explaining the unfiltered nature of the wine. We will certainly hold on to some as ‘museum’ stock that we can call on for future wine dinners. And of course, there will need to be some available for personal consumption!


Last week, we had an absolutely superb meal at La Luna in Carlton. Friends of ours, Graham and Hazel Jacobsson, who have Rokewood Junction wines, also raise Suffolk sheep. These are the most cared for animals I have ever seen. It is lambing season, and the ewes deliver their lambs in a shed, with the odd lamb making it into the house in front of the fire if need be. Despite the prohibitive cost of Lucerne during this last drought year, they have been steadily munching away – supplemented by popcorn. Graham and Hazel have been supplying La Luna for the last six months with this very tender and flavoursome lamb. We made the trip down for lunch last Sunday and met up with another couple. The chef had only broken up the last of the carcasses on Friday but was able to put a rolled shoulder of lamb on as an extra special treat (it didn’t even make it to the specials board). Five of us had the lamb (what else could we do), yet one lone and very brave diner in our group opted for the beef (with Yorkshire Pudding). The entire meal was an absolute delight. The chef (Michael) hangs his own meat (including some beef for eight weeks). This is a restaurant focused on getting precisely the best outcome from their produce. The abbreviated menu (as experienced on our table) is reproduced below. It should also be mentioned that we had some great wines. Every time I have eaten at La Luna, I have had a very pleasurable experience – I would strongly recommend them. Return to So Far This Week



Rabbit pie on endive, rocket, & dried tomatoes


Grilled Cottochino with sautéed mushroom, caramelised onion & garlic butter


Smoked trout with artichoke salad




Braised shoulder of Suffolk Lamb with roasted pumpkin and slow cooked onions.


Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding & a sweet onion jus


Dessert Tasting Platter:











2006 Isabel Estate Pinot Gris (NZ)


2005 Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir (Tas)


2003 Castellare Chianti Classico (Italy)





Lemon Curd


Crème Brulee




Raspberry sorbet


Triple Chocolate brownie


Ice creams: vanilla, praline & lemon curd in a brandy snap basket

20 September 2007


Well the long task of pruning is all but finished; just a few more hours left to go. The last task has been ‘tying down’ the canes that have been pruned and trimmed to the right length. This gets especially tricky as we have had an early budburst and it is all too easy to knock the buds off. Certainly caught us by surprise!