Retirement@65 2021With these 2 vineyards, our biggest concern always are the birds. They are situated so far up the Darling mountains, that they fall prey to these beautiful creatures. Not that I blame them. If I had to live in the wild overlooking a nice, juicy green vineyard, I would also be tempted to have a nibble. Anyway, they were there first, so the only way for me to have anything left in the vineyard by the time of picking is to prevent them from getting close to the bunches. We therefore buy nets from Agrimark and cover the vines. It comes in rolls of 1.5 meter wide and 2 km in length. We then add these to either side of the bush vine rows and tie the 2 together at the top. The sides get covered with soil to keep it in place. And we have to repeat this process every year… When it came to the harvest of 2021, we decided to pick the Shiraz component a bit earlier than usual. The result: a wine that turned out to be a bit lighter and more perfumy. It compliments the finer aromas of the Cinsaut and amplifies freshness, adding great length. We were therefore able to add much more Shiraz to the blend than ever before - 44% Shiraz and 56% Cinsaut. The Story
In June 2014, I arrived at a farm in Darling where I was met by a very grumpy farmer. And for good reason I soon learnt. I had bought bits of grapes from the farmer during that year’s harvest (which all turned out really promising) and was doing my annual post-harvest farm visit with a fresh barrel sample for the farmer to taste.
One of his grape clients had previously persuaded him to farm a little Cinsaut vineyard by method of minimum intervention. Not in an organic kind of a way, but more towards a 300% leave-the-vineyard-to-be kind of way.
To make a long story short, due to many contributing factors, all the grapes of this little Cinsaut vineyard ended up going to the pigs and he was blaming his minimum intervention 300% leave-the-vineyard-to-be client for all of this. To make matters worse, for the 62 years prior to this, the vineyard hardly produced grapes sufficient to produce wine with. You see, his grandfather planted the vineyard in 1951 and had still used a horse to plough the land. The vineyard is on the edge of the mountain in a little valley and the only food source around. So as the berries accumulated sugar, the birds would hop from bunch to bunch pricking the berries with their beaks, causing them to rot. And by the time the grapes ripened there weren’t much left. Now things like this interest me. I asked him if we could give it one more try.
He reluctantly agreed on the condition that he farms the block the way he believes one should. I, in turn, agreed to buy bird nets to cover the vines and we had a deal. So in mid 2014 the vines were neatly pruned and he took care of the weeds. That spring, after bud break, the first soft green shoots appeared. Everything looked good! Then, one Sunday afternoon, I received a photo on whatsapp. It was the vineyard in question with about 20 odd sheep feeding in the vineyard and no sign of the newly formed soft shoots - only brown stumps remaining as the vineyard celebrated it’s 64th birthday. Late that Friday night his sheep had broken through the fence and ate everything green in colour. So there went another crop and the farmer got even more despondent.
But he didn't give up and so, in June 2015, he raised the fence. In early November we covered the whole vineyard in bird nets. Finally, in February 2016 (for the first time in 65 years!) the vineyard survived the onslaught of wild animals roaming the hillsides of Darling and we picked a very small, but healthy, crop.Technical InformationCultivar: Cinsaut (56%), Shiraz (44%)Vintage: 2021Region: Darling
Amount of Bottles Produced: 2700
Vineyard: Both the bush vine vineyards grow on the slopes of the Darling hills on sandy decomposed granite soil. 204 meters above sea-level.
Winemaking: The grapes were picked at optimal ripeness and cooled overnight to 4 degrees celsius. The next morning the grapes were hand sorted and partially de-stemmed. It fermented in open top fermenters, a combination of de-stemmed grapes and whole bunches. The juice underwent spontaneous fermentation and stayed on the skins for as long as possible. Aged in older oak for 8 months, blended and bottled.
Alcoholic Strenght: 12% / volAcidity: 4.73 g/lPH: 3.74Reducing Sugar: 1.44 g/lFree SO2: 28 ppmTotal SO2: 70 ppmVolatile Acidity: 0.66 g/lClosure: Natural corkVegan: YesVoice recordingHow to order
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