Margaret River Western Australia Harvest 2012 Update #3

Most Extreme Cabernet Elimination Challenge As we sit in Ubud, on the island of Bali in Indonesia, puffing Gudang Garam clove cigarettes & drinking Bintang, we finally have the time & the energy to reflect on the last five months of our time in Western Australia.
You see, harvest has a rhythm. Once the beat begins, little else is important, including keeping up with your blog. Every day becomes a cycle of pick & crush, plunge & monitor. We would walk into our shift and onto the crush pad, or onto the ferment round, or onto the racking, or stirring, or analyzing. From the beginning of shift to the end, no one ever stopped moving. Luckily, our shift of NightRiders worked independently & individually, giving us the confidence & comfort level to crack jokes & play while we worked hard. Laughter made the hardest task seem easy during our overnight shift.

Jesse recalls vividly: “‘Can you carry these cultures five stories up onto the catwalk that’s swaying back and forth with the strength of a rainstorm and weight of several 38 ton sweeper arm fermenters and add them?’ ‘Sure, when the force of the wind prevents me from pouring over the side of the fermenter because I can only stand a yeast facial for so long, I’ll lower the whole damn thing into the neck. Never mind gaining a deep & meaningful understanding of the word vertigo.'”

Fourth story catwalk view of 5 of 8 sweeper arm fermenters at Xanadu

However, when harvest slowed and we were reunited with the Day Walkers, we were practically feral, full of humor that no one else understood & behaviors that startled others. Additionally, we had to relearn the proper times to drink coffee and that wearing sunscreen would likely be necessary for us nocturnal cellar rodents. We must admit, we were a terrible influence on them: dance music during the day, giggling while spinning barrels and telling jokes that seemed appropriate in the dark of night but would make our diurnal human resources feel faint.

Sadly, when all of the 2012 fruit was picked and the ferments finished, we had to say goodbye to most of the vintage team. Only us two Hipsters, Luke & Jesse, and one of our fellow Nightriders, Lorne, remained. During this time, we had the pleasure of racking the 2011 reds and chardonnays out of barrel and into tanks. As samples were drawn from said tanks, we were invited to blind taste each batch as well as trial blends for future bottling. This is a rare experience for casual cellar hands and we reveled in it. And yes, self-indulgently, we were pleased when our picks mirrored those of the winemakers. It was a valuable lesson to learn where the wants of the consumer, marketing’s requested volumes for each brand, and winemaker’s own personal style meet. The tasting of 39 Bordeaux varietals also made us appreciate our history of participation in large scale tasting events in Los Angeles. When 31 of the samples are Cabernet Sauvignon, a discerning palate is needed to rank & file blocks from the same region, from neighboring growers, from within the same vineyard. Bear in mind, that these wines are all still quite young. Given what a spectacular vintage 2012 was in Margaret River, we anticipate hearing great things about the growth of these wines as they mature from the winemakers at Xanadu.

As our Nasi Goreng has just arrived to the table, we’re afraid that we must cut this transmission short. As always, thank you for reading, or as they say in Balinese, Terima kasih. Until next time, Selamat tinggal…

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