Wow, this was the vintage that nearly wasn’t. We had almost 10 days of rain and close to 100mm during the ripening period; we were worried that we wouldn’t pick any fruit at all. Fortunately the sun came out and shone for a month straight and we enjoyed almost perfect ripening conditions. With the sun, however, came the kangaroos and birds. They took more than their fair share of fruit and we spent every morning and evening chasing roos from the vineyard. The kids loved it but we can’t say we did overly.
Finally the fruit was picked on 6th March, the first Cabernet fruit picked that year. At the time it was slightly worrying as the fruit, while exhibiting lovely light flavours and ripe tannins, had quite low potential alcohol. We needed not be concerned as after only a few days on skins this wine began to shine and revealed itself as a medium-bodied silky tannin-bearing beauty.
The fruit was simply destemmed and fermented in 4.5-tonne static fermenters. After 12 days on skins and a peak ferment temperature of around 25 degrees Celsius, the wine was pressed to tank and settled briefly, before being transferred to a combination of new (25%) and two-year-old barrels to undergo malolactic conversion. This wine was racked only once in this time and, after 15 months in oak, was emptied from barrel, settled, clarified and bottled.
The Sheoak vineyard makes expressive, medium-bodied Cabernets that bear some semblance to a modern version of luncheon claret. I am as happy with this Cabernet as any I have been involved in making. While it’s amazingly accessible on release, two to three years’ further maturation will really make this amazing wine shine. – Alana & Julian Langworthy