As others in the industry will attest, the 2018 vintage experienced one of the most extraordinary seasons, one that Tasmania has not witnessed in at least the last ten years. As Galileo so beautifully articulated, the sun definitely did its job this year, ripening those bunches of grapes with an assumption it had nothing better to do than to focus on Tasmania.
To put this in perspective, most years at Josef Chromy we’d usually start harvesting our grapes around the first week of March, but this year we started on February 19. And once it started, it did not stop coming for the next eight weeks.....it was full on. It was a record breaking year for us, processing 2477 tons of grapes in just eight weeks, with some of our daily intakes reaching 140 tons which made for some pretty intense days.
With the huge volume of fruit received each day, it was critical that we put together a team of staff that was highly skilled and extremely efficient. This year we had eight people join us from all over the world including the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. The team were nothing short of exceptional and arguably the best combination of skills and personalities we’ve seen in the eight years since I joined.
Despite nailing our biggest vintage on record, we also managed to squeeze in a regular Saturday barbecue lunch – it was particularly convenient that we managed to hire a qualified chef on our winery team this year… (Thanks Nic!)
We are in the final stages now, pressing the last of the reds and finishing off the white ferments. It’s an intricate stage of the process, ensuring the wines ferment to dryness. So far, everything appears to be going very well and the wines are looking vibrant and full of character.
The vineyard team is now on a well-earned break before pruning starts in May/June. And then preparation starts again for next year’s vintage.
As the processing stage winds down, our production team crank up the disgorgement of our sparkling wines so we can get it out to our many distributors. And then it will be time to get started on all of the 2018 aromatic wines.
You should expect to see some impressive wines on the back of this vintage; quality wines that are intense, full of flavour and typically varietal, and what you’d expect from a Josef Chromy wine. Based on what we’ve seen so far, 2018 is definitely going to be a vintage to watch.
Welcome to the inaugural ‘What we get up to in the winery and vineyard throughout the year update’. I’m sure the Marketing team will come up with a catchier title, ... that’s why they get paid the big bucks.
So it is now mid-September and the vineyard team is just finishing pruning for the year. The cold winter nights are very important for the vineyard, as they allow the vines to go into dormancy, and focus on storing carbohydrates in the roots and trunk for next years growth. This unfortunately means that the vineyard team are not being able to feel their fingers and toes for three months. The end is in sight however, and now the race is on to finish the last few blocks before budburst.
Here at the winery, we are busy bottling our 2014 aromatic whites such as the Riesling and the Pinot Gris. So we have been blending all our components together after rigorous tasting sessions. Some would suggest that we always seem to be undertaking tasting sessions, and that we just use them as an excuse to drink. We take our tasting sessions very seriously...... all 365 of them... three times daily.
The wines need to be stabilised and filtered prior to being released, and by stabilising, we are referring to stabilisation to extreme heat or cold. If a wine is not cold stabilised, it can develop small crystals in the bottle, if it gets too cold in your fridge. These crystals are harmless, and are derived from potassium which comes from the grapes. However, we can initiate this process in the winery by holding the wine at very low temperatures so it occurs in winery tanks, rather than in the bottle. The same thing applies to heat stabilisation, where a wine can become hazy if a similar process is not applied. This is all done so the wines look clear and bright. We all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but we are a little bit vain in regards to our wines, and like them to look pretty too. I was going to insert something here about dogs looking like their owners, however I just looked over our profile pictures and thought it would work against the explanation... I digress.
It is also time to start racking Pinot Noir barrels in the winery. By this I mean pump the wine out of the barrels into a tank, and then return it back to the barrels. Why you ask? Well, the main reason is to take the wine off lees, and to give the wine some air. These lees are wine solids that settle down in the wine, and can make the wine reductive if left too long. So we take the wine out, wash the barrels, and return the wine back to the barrels. How often we do this depends on the wine type and style. However for Pinot Noir, it typically occurs twice over 12 months.
It is very important to look after barrels in the winery, as oak is a common site for spoilage through bacteria. At Josef Chromy we only use French oak barriques, predominantly from the forests surrounding Burgundy. Each empty barrel costs approximately $1300 to purchase... I know, crazy isn’t it, however good oak makes a big difference to wine, and in Tasmania we are dealing with some of the best fruit in the world.
I think that will be enough for our inaugural update. After this effort I doubt I will be invited to do the next one. It’s a bit like when my wife asks me to do the ironing, and I do such a bad job she doesn’t let me do it next time... incompetent she calls it... I call it genius.
Stewart Byrne, Winemaker
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Cellar Door - Open 7 days 10am - 5pm
Restaurant - Lunch daily 11.45am - 2.30pm
(Closed Christmas Day)
370 Relbia Rd
Relbia TAS 7258
03 6335 8700