Latest News From Smidge Wines
With the flurry of vintage over, the cool of winter is a time to slow down, catch up and regroup. We take the opportunity to sit down with Smidge Founder and Winemaker Matt Wenk at the cellar door to catch up with his take on what this means in the vineyard and for the season ahead.
As Matt points to the vineyards outside he tell us "Our vines in McLaren Vale have been dormant for a number of weeks and the task of pruning off last season’s growth in order to shape the vine in readiness for another growing season, is well underway".
While I've never really thought about it & it now seems obvious, he goes on "Pruning is a vineyard activity of solitude. In many ways this is not a downside, although very much a positive. Each vine requires evaluation and to prune well, one needs to focus on attention to detail, ensuring correct bud numbers, shape and spacing"
As our conversation continues Matt comments get a little more t move towards what is next in store "Throughout the growing season, a vine requires soil moisture to help in photosynthesis, the process where basically, solar energy helps convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrate (distributed to the fruit and wood tissue) and oxygen. Once the fruit is picked, this process continues, and these carbohydrates are translocated to the wood tissue of the vines. If irrigation is available, it is often applied to a vineyard post-harvest, especially if the latter part of the growing season has been dry. This irrigation provides the soil moisture for the photosynthesis and subsequent carbohydrate production that is then stored in the vine before dormancy, in readiness for the energy required for budburst and early growth stages of the following growing season.
Over recent years the total rainfall through winter to early spring has been a bit up and down, whereas so far this year in Willunga where the estate vineyard is, our annual rainfall to the end of July is well over 400mm, compared to the average to the same time of 295mm. The soil profile is full, which will help set up the vineyards for a great start to the coming growing season.
Imagine biting into a habanero chilli before being asked to appreciate a delicate Michelin star worthy masterpiece, or to accurately describe a piece of art after immediately removing a blindfold?
In the same way you may temporarily lose the will to live after biting into the world's hottest chilli, or you reflexively squint and recoil from bright light after emerging from darkness, our senses and responses are impacted. Basically, this changes how we interpret information that is normally and reliably delivered to us via our senses.
Our noses are no different. Any strong scent will completely change how we smell and subsequently taste and appreciate a wine or nearly anything for that matter. (Do you remember being blindfolded with a peg on your nose tasting pieces of apple and onion as a kid?)
Those that live with Smidge Winemaker Matt Wenk think he can be a little extreme in the lengths He’ll go to protect his sense of smell when tasting. Matt’s wife & Smidge partner confirms “dinner won't be cooked, coffee won't be brewed - even starting the fire is a no go zone. And don’t get him started on scented candles or diffusers – both of which are much loved in the house – just not by Matt when it is time to taste”.
Matt goes on to add “there is an unspoken (or maybe it should be spoken) rule regarding perfume or scent (this rule does not apply to deodorant and the alternative can be just as damaging!) when going to a tasting, masterclass or wine dinner. It’s the classic less is more – the less ‘other smells’ exist, allow more ‘wine smells’ to shine through.
Can this conversation be awkward going to an event with someone? Matt adds “Put it this way, I’ve known my wife since I was 16 and she can tell you the day I asked her not to wear perfume to a wine tasting”.
This is the extension of the trial that started with the 2017 Cabernet. To select a parcel of Cabernet from the estate block, put it into 100% new French oak and see how far we can push it.
The vineyard in Willunga was attached to a small winery that shut down many years ago, which was called Akeringa. The sheds have been used as a mechanics workshop since, although you can see where the winery drains have been filled in with concrete. When I was the winemaker at Two Hands Wines, a large portion of the Cabernet was sold to them and over a number of years some of the fruit ended up as the base for the Aphrodite Cabernet sauvignon and so I have always known what the block was capable of. Hence, I have being quietly trialling a few things over the years and now here is the birth of the Akeringa Cabernet sauvignon.
No fancy winemaking tricks here. This parcel was made in the same way as the 2018 La Grenouille description, except that the chosen parcel went to 100% new extra tight Cadus Hogsheads.
To access a pre-release allocation please click here.