Our blog is a little delayed this week. Normally this happens when there is not enough to say or write. But this week, there is so much to talk about from the last seven to ten days, that I don’t know where to start.

No two years are the same in the vineyard although wine writers like to compare particular years in order to give readers and wine lovers a clearer feel of how a particular vintage tastes, looks and feels. Many months back (in my youthful predictive wisdom!) we wrote that the success of 2011 would be determined in the vineyard. Now that statement is of course always a truism – if you start with bad fruit, you can never make good wine! In 2011, making good fruit was hard going. After a dream start of a warm early spring, things slowly got harder as the season progressed. The lack of spring rain was made worse by the June heatwave which then brutally changed to a month of cold wet weather in July. August was variable and September has been humid and brought on early rot in many sectors. Serious hail thankfully missed us on two occasions when others suffered. And for the final six weeks the strategy has very much been one of not intervening in the vineyard, staying calm and letting nature ride it out.

Our Cloud9 Cabernet Franc is a light fruity wine made from early harvested grapes. That ability to harvest early certainly allowed us to bring in very clean healthy fruit which will certainly contribute to producing a good Cloud9 in 2011. Selective picking was critical as well as further quality inspection prior to crushing and destemming and finally before loading into the vat. As always, we have tried to bring you the action in photos.

After two days of cold maceration in the vat, yeast and a small quantity of chaptalisation sugar was added for the fermentation to begin. Daily oxygenation and a long single pump over of the must was undertaken for the first six days – the strategy being not to extract excessive potential tannin likely from the fruit this year. With days of hot weather, the air conditioner and temperature control systems proved their value in maintaining steady conditions in the vat. The temperature and density measurements have very closely mirrored last year’s data as the fermentation rates peaked and have now started to slow. A daily small light unaerated pump over will be maintained until the end of this week, when the wine will be racked off. As always, we have tried to bring you the action in photos.

Tell us about the Merlot, what’s in the baby vat – I hear the questions? Well I can tell you it will be Cab Merlot and the full story of this exciting second major development at Paradise Rescued can be released soon. There are a few legal formalities to be signed off this (Super) Friday and then we hope we can tell you more. Another mega week coming up.