Shiraz reigns supreme in Australia so it took us a few years to find a patch of vines that took our interest. The Blewitt Spring district of McLaren Vale manages to produce intense flavours, a floral uplift with balanced acidity at lower baumes and the Whaite brothers have been farming the area for decades. Their vineyard is sustainably farmed with the vines being planted in 1968 by hand on a school break by Gary and Anthony Whaite. My father and I hand-picked the grapes before de-stemming the whole berries back into the picking bins. The wine underwent wild ferment and stayed on skins for three weeks before being pressed off into an old French barrel. The use of non-interventionist techniques has allowed the true representation of the vineyard to speak volumes.
2013 Blewitt Springs Vintage Conditions
Rainfall. Winter rainfall was about average which meant our vines were well rested with enough support to hold them in good stead. The dry grown Shiraz vines are able to withstand long periods of heat without much impact. Even still there was not much respite after September started as we only experienced a few mild showers throughout the development.
Flowering. Flowering was underway around the normal time with an extremely small crop on each vine (at the time of picking the yield was 800 kilo per acre). After the small crop in 2012 it wasn’t much of a relief as the crop was tiny.
Weather. The growing season was warmer than usual with many heat spikes. This meant that the sugars developed faster than flavour which meant that we had to be patient. Due to the location of our Blewitt Springs vineyard the cool nights resulting in great acidity and a more balanced flavour profile. My dad and I hand-picked our Shiraz on the 23rd of February before transporting them to the winery.
Vineyard: Whaite Vineyard Blewitt Springs
Whaite Vineyard, planted in 1924 and 1968, is located in the Blewitt Springs district North East of McLaren Vale at 200 metres elevation. The micro-climate is cooler by 2 degrees on average than the Vale. The soils are known geologically as North Maslin sands and display a wide variety of colours and textures at different layers. These layers constantly changing in the depth at which they are found across a block of vines. They range from grey sand, to white sand, to yellow sand, in conjunction with ironstone, ironstone gravels, bright red/orange/yellow mottled clay, and ferruginous quartzite. These qualities above all else give the wines from these vineyards their unique rich but elegant style, and also support vines to be grown without irrigation.
By employing techniques from a wide variety of viticultural approaches, with the emphasis being on simple and well timed application, Whaite is carefully managed to maintain vine balance and allow full expression of it’s unique terroir.