…here they are. (2 hours late but not to worry.) First problem: – apparently low range 4WD and a diff-lock doesn’t count for much these days as truck can’t get through the gate. Tried forwards. Tried backwards. In the end, the only way to go was sideways…
…so parked in the neighbors driveway and craned them over the fence. The tarp had to go but, seeing these things are supposed to last at least 50 years in the ground, I figured that a few weeks above ground won’t hurt them.
And there they are…620 line posts and 200 end posts. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do with them until the ground anchors turn up from Qing Dao in around 30 days time. At least that will allow time to get everything ready…I hope.
SWINGS – In the words of the incomparable Spike Milligan, “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz,” which serves to remind me both that time is marching on and that it has been a little while since my last post.
ROUNDABOUTS – Despite the blossom up and down the valley and budburst imminent, Liawenee on the Great Lake had the lowest ever recorded temperature in TAS last night and apparently, this morning in Hobart was the coldest since 1959, with Mt Wellington summit closed due to snow.
SWINGS – Thankfully the Tamar Valley is proving a little less extreme. In fact, two days last week taking cuttings from the equally incomparable, (albeit for different reasons,) Dr Andrew Pirie’s vineyard saw me almost down to shirt-sleeves, despite Andrew and his partner Liz looking all set for a trip to Mawson Station. The result was that around 600 cuttings each of Pinot Meunier and Fromenteau Gris, (the Champagne synonym for Pinot Gris,) have now taken their place in the callousing boxes, in addition to a few hundred Chardonnay clone 277 on advice from Andrew. This should have meant that we have collected 6 of the 7 permitted Champagne varieties, leaving only the elusive Arbane for later.
ROUNDABOUTS – However, there has been some disappointing news from Eden Valley that there were not as many viable Petit Meslier cuttings as we thought. While we still hold out hope of a small number being available, it will unfortunately mean a change to the current planting plan.
SWINGS – While Meslier may not feature prominently in the vineyard this year, it has certainly improved it’s standing in the cellar, with a case of “homework” turning up in the mail from the very splendid Jim Irvine. I will certainly make study a priority this Summer.
As many of you will have read in previous posts, Petit Meslier is one of the varieties I will be planting this year and I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the only known grower of this variety in Australia, James Irvine. He recently sent me a bottle of his 2013 Meslier base wine which I have now finally had the opportunity to give some attention to, so I thought I should share my tasting note with you while it is still fresh in my mind.
This variety is a cross between Savagnin and Gouais Blanc. The latter has been the mother for almost as many better known varieties as it has synonyms, (and believe me, there are plenty,) including Chardonnay and Riesling, so it is hard to pinpoint any particular inherited attributes. Perhaps the more citrusy elements may come from this side, and on the nose at least, the wine shows some similarities with Riesling, with aromas that include wild flower and orange blossom. The faint but noticeable spice and rose petal notes are more easily traced to it’s Savagnin parentage, (one of the Traminer family,) as might be the marked yellow colouration.
Unusually for a young base wine, (which can often strip the lining from your throat on the way down,) the palate has some sappy, almost fatty textures on entry, which soon give way to searing green apple and lime flavours. I am genuinely impressed with this wine and it will be intriguing to see if Tasmania produces the same combination of acidity, texture and primary aromatics. Once again, a thousand thanks Jim.
…two of which at least were useful as we set off to make a survey of the block so that an order for the trellis posts can be placed next week. This represents the biggest investment since buying the land and I have thought long and hard over the right way to go, not only in terms of the training choices, height, end assemblies etc (of which their will be much more in future posts,) but about what materials I would use.
The standard choice is CCA (copper, chromium, arsenic,) treated pine. It lasts well, although it tends to brittleness, and is relatively inexpensive. While there have been few issues with chemical leaching, I have encountered the occasional whisper that, in areas of intensive planting, the arsenic residues in the soils are building to levels that might become a concern in the future.
As everything involved in building a vineyard must be done with an eye to the future, I have settled on a new product from the wonderful Ashley Davidson at Woodshield comprising an untreated machined pine post sheathed in a recycled 6mm plastic outer. These posts have higher breaking strains than treated pine and are suitable for organic viticulture. While admittedly there are higher initial costs, hopefully they will be offset by long-term savings and minimal environmental impact. And I feel that I am doing the right thing.
In my search for the full Champagne varietal pack, I managed to track down the wonderful Mr James Irvine from Eden Valley in South Australia who is, I believe, the only grower of Petit Meslier in the country. Not only did he very kindly send me 2bts of his exceptional wines to try for myself, he has taken cuttings from his vineyard and, with the help of Nick Dry at the Yalumba nursery, has arranged to ship them down to Tas. I cannot tell you how excited I am at the prospect of seeing these rare cuttings alongside the others. Thanks Yalumba and a massive thanks to Jim Irvine who is a true icon of Australian wine. Go and check him out here to see for yourself.