August 21, 2007
Victorian winter and Two Hills Vineyard
I would like to bring you up to date on some recent developments. The dry season seams to be over in our neck of the wood. When we arrived at Two Hills Vineyard our small dam was full and the larger “irrigation” dam was slowly collecting runoff water from the surrounding hills. However, when I was digging out some blackberry roots I quickly discovered that the ground was still rather dry. Only about the first 5 cm of soil showed some moisture but below there were hardly any to find; not quite dry as a bone but still too dry. We will need much more rain in order to refill the ground.
The un-pruned vines
Another exciting news is, that we are extending our vineyard. We are in the process of planting 1 ½ acres of Chardonnay (clone P 58). The posts are almost in. Peter Thwaites could not finish the job because it was too boggy. The spacing is 3 meter between the rows and 6 meter between the panels. Pro panel we will plant 4 vines (1.5 m per vine). We have 20 new rows of different length but about 1200 vines should find a new home at Two Hills Vineyard. We have to be patient though. Experience suggests that we will have to wait another four to six years before we can drink the first drop from this site.
The new Chardonnay block in the making
February 20, 2007
Many of our customers might have wondered why we changed from a natural cork as used for the 2001 vintage to one which looks like a compound, glued together closure. Well, let me share with you some of the information which brought us to this change.
Wine industry experts estimated that each year about 200 million bottles of wine worldwide are having a moldy smell coming from defective cork contaminated with Trichloroanisole (TCA). The financial losses to the industry are enormous. If one assumes than on average about 9% of the bottles are contaminated, then any method able to reduce these losses is highly welcome especially by small producers or boutique vineyards such as Two Hills. A French closure company, Sabaté of Oeneo, has developed a new closure, the DIAM cork, which guarantees a 100% cork taint free closure of wine bottles. These corks also offer near perfect seals and no random cork oxidation or leaks.
How is the DIAM cork made?
The procedure is similar to the technique used to produce decaffeinated coffee. The cork is reduced to cork flour, and then washed with carbon dioxide where the TCA is removed. After that the flour is reconstituted and held together by the same polymer that contact lenses are made from. Independent research, for instance by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI; www.awri.com.au), has confirmed that DIAM corks are exceptional in preserving freshness by avoiding oxidation. In 2004 Oeneo Closures has won an international award, the Gold Medal Trophy of Vinitech in Bordeaux, for technical innovation.
We at Two Hills Vineyard had basically three options: (1). buy more expensive conventional cork, (2) put the wine under screw caps and (3) experiment with DIAM cork. I could not bring myself to put red wine under a screw cap. I might be called a romantic by I enjoy opening a bottle with a traditional opener. For white wines, I hold a different view. I am willing to sacrifice the same romantic notion for a guaranteed cork free taste of the wine. I am not so sure about Riesling though, especially those Riesling wines which benefit from aging. In such a case I would be willing to invest in more expensive conventional corks, I guess. This is of course not logical but rather arbitrary, I know. Alas we do not have Riesling grapes at Two Hills so that I do not have to make this decision. But for aromatic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc of which I am especially fond off, I readily accept the screw cap.
In the end we decided to give DIAM a chance. I hope that our customers will be satisfied with this explanation and continue to enjoy the exceptional quality of our wines. For those of you who want to know more about closures, please visit www.winestate.com.au or put DIAM in your search engine.
2004 Two Hills Merlot bottles shortly before consumption on our terrace in Glenburn