Magnolia bud. It's SpringOpen magnolia flower

To our subscribers who are (and have been) working on the ‘front line’ dealing with covid patients, and those who are currently in lockdown…our thoughts are with you and we thank you for your efforts in stopping the spread of covid.

We have just had the second warmest winter according to the Bureau of Meteorology, though it was seriously wet, even by Tassie standards, with 370 mm of rain over June, July and August. Still, without irrigation, I am happy to start the vine year with plenty of subsoil moisture.

We were lucky to have the help of 3 workers this year (compared to just the 2 of us in 2020), so pruning and tying down were finished by the end of July (a record for us!) and this allowed us to do some replanting in our new red and white blocks while the soil was soft and moist. Getting a tractor into the vineyard was only possible in the last 2 weeks as the ground needed to firm up.

The first day above 20 degrees last week came as a pleasant surprise and the outlook for the months to Christmas is for above average temperatures. After two cooler vintages, I am hoping for a warm summer ahead, so I have ordered 3 new French oak barrels (Vosges, Fontainebleau and Jupilles) to be used for our Merlot. My intention is to keep a ‘reserve’ Merlot in the best years and make our ‘The Mattock’ blend consistently (unless the vintage is passed over like 2020 and 2011 were and we make no wines). Once the 2010 Merlot is sold out, there will be a long wait until the 2018 Reserve Merlot is ready for release (2012 to 2017 inclusive, all the merlot was used to make The Mattock)

We reviewed our 2021 vintage wines with our new winemaker, Matthias Utzinger, last week and were very pleased. From the cooler vintage, the whites are quite sharply focussed and mineral and will need many months on lees to round out. The reds are also fruit intense with the Pinot Noir especially perfumed. The most interesting wine will be a Rose made from Shiraz and our Romanesque varieties which has a most intriguing aroma that will be difficult to describe when it comes time for me to do the back label!

I have to comment on the pandemic at this crucial time. It seems a bit surreal to hear the talk of ‘opening up’ (relaxing lock-down protocols and opening borders between states) when we reach magic numbers (70%, 80%, 90%?) derived from computer modelling. The just and humane thing to do is ‘open up’ when a jurisdiction has given sufficient time, for all those eligible to be vaccinated to have done so. The percentage vaccinated at the time vaccination take up has severely slowed, is, whatever it is. To ‘open up’ before everyone who wishes to be vaccinated has been able to do so, is both dangerous and unjust. I’m not saying that a cut-off date wouldn’t focus people’s intention to make a decision….

With Sydney and Melbourne in lockdown, distributer sales have dried up and tourism in Tasmania will be subdued until the New Year. We will be relying on the faithful support of wine club members and direct internet sales for many months ahead. If you enjoy our wines, please tell your friends about them.. We do, however, understand that many have had their livelihoods impacted by covid and may not be in a position to place an order

But enough about covid! At present (& for the foreseeable future), we are only open ‘by appointment’ for tastings, and our garden (aka our ‘cellar door’) has begun awakening from its winter dormancy. We have had our deck enclosed as a ‘glass room’, which is part of our home…but it can also be a ‘fall back’ for wine tasting if the weather is wet +/- too windy.

We now have 2 puppies….After Leia (Tess’ sister) died in January, we knew we had to get another dog… to keep Tess company & work with her to chase wildlife out of the vineyard & birds out of the nets. Enter Lulu…a pure kelpie, born 11/1 whom we collected on 12/3. Tess took about 10 days to warm to Lulu, but then they played happily together. Lulu is like a tightly coiled spring. She knows how to ‘sit’, but her whole body quivers with the pent up energy. As soon as you reach out to pat her she ‘explodes’ to release all the pent up energy…often leaping straight up over a metre from the ground. She became too boisterous for poor Tess (who is now 9 & slowing up due to arthritis) so we had to find another puppy, one that could hopefully match Lulu’s energy levels & give Tess a bit of peace from Lulu. Enter Coco… a Huntaway x Smithfield. Coco has a completely different personality & demeanour to Lulu, but they play together constantly…a big relief to Tess & us! Although Coco is 4 months younger than Lulu, she is nearly the same size…with lots more growing to do!

We hope you enjoy the photos of our magnolia flowers, Lulu and Coco.

Take care and stay safe,

Bob & Rita

Lulu 8 mths oldCoco 4 mths old