Latest News From Smidge Wines
I was recently asked why we bottle our Houdini Shiraz in a Burgundy bottle, this is the first time we’ve had this question and thought it might be interesting for others.
Unlike the glasses we drink from, or the closure of a bottle, the shape bottle doesn’t really impact the taste or development of our wine. Historically, in particular, looking at "old world" wines, the bottle shape was more influenced from where it came from, for example Bordeaux (the tall high shouldered claret shape) or Burgundy (the low shouldered, more curvy shape). Equally, there is no ‘Shiraz bottle’, although the wines of the Rhone Valley, which is the home of Shiraz (and Grenache) in France, use a Burgundy shaped bottle. This bottle used in Burgundy (Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Aligote) and the Rhone are the same shape, although regularly differ in diameter and height. The rationale for the different shapes is varied, although historically many argued about the size and shape of the bottle and the associated air pocket seen in a bottle when laying on its side resulted in differing contact with and influence on the wine.
Today, it can be argued that the use of the Burgundian bottle for Australian Shiraz can stem from the influence of regions such as the Rhone Valley, where Shiraz is the predominant variety in many subregions. This is the case for Smidge Wines. Equally, some suggest the current use of the Burgundy bottle has been used to demonstrate the move towards a more distinct Australian Shiraz style, and away from Australia’s historical and prevalent use of the Bordeaux shape, which is now mainly reserved for Cabernet sauvignon, blends thereof and other Bordelaise varieties.
The start of winter was true to its name this week, with heavy rain and extensive electrical storms filling the air with nitrogen and the soil with water. The vines unfortunately won't benefit from the nitrogen without their leaves, although will enjoy the soil moisture in spring upon budburst and early growth.
As a micro producer, it means we are hands on at each stage of production and sales. So between some packing and deliveries we found ourselves bottling our La Grenouille Cabernet this week.
Rounding out the weekend was our monthly cellar door opening, where we got to share a few winter warmers with local wine enthusiasts!
Week #22: This week it was time for a new vintage of Cabernet being blended and the last of the 2023 Cabernet batches going to barrel, as such it felt like a game of tetris, juggling tanks and barrels of wine.
At Smidge, the majority of our wines are matured in fine grained French oak (Taransaud and Cabernet sauvignon work well together) and looking after these barrels is a top priority. Not only because they are expensive, but cleanliness is extremely important. To ensure the hygiene of one's barrels is maintained, a couple of main tasks are often employed. At Smidge, we use a specialised barrel washer coupled with a pressure cleaner that delivers 90+ degrees C filtered water at low volume and high pressure.
The temperature and pressure removes tartrates (unstable crystals that precipitate out of wine over time) from the inside surface of the barrel and the temperature/steam also sanitises the barrels, helping to keep unwanted bacteria and yeasts at bay. Cheers! #australianwine #operations #winemaking
It’s not often during the growing season that we see such a distinct line showing 2 varieties. For a very small window, we had a beautiful reminder that the differences between varieties that go well beyond fruit colour and flavour to the different pace that vines go dormant, and the underlying pigments that exist in the vines themselves.
Fun Fact: The autumnal colours in vine leaves are present for the full growing season. It is not until the temperate & light reduces as we approach winter, and the green Chlorophyll used for photosynthesis degrades leaving original pigments (carotenoids (yellow- orange), and Anthocyanins (red – to purple).
We are thrilled to get news that we made The Real Review's 2023 Top Wineries of Australia List for our third consecutive year. A huge thanks to Huon Hooke and his team, we appreciate being in the company of wineries on the list. Cheers! #australianwine #winemaking #mclarenvale
During a week of scorching weather, like many wineries we found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of contacting clients regarding what would become late deliveries of their wine order. Heat and warmth is both a friend & foe of wine and it is certainly important for fruit maturation and even fermentation. However, for transport and storage a small daily range is what we like most, and we will always do our best to avoid excessive heat is critical.
For us, with sometimes years of work that goes into making, packing and storing a single wine it’s best we don’t trip at the finish line, and ship in a heat wave for the wine to become ‘cooked’ in the back of a truck. A result I’m sure that would risk our client’s ultimate enjoyment of the wine.