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Day 22 of Clare Valley Vintage -Cab Sav off to a scorcher

Published:  23 July, 2008

G'day Folks. I think I have a new crush on Cabernet Sauvignon.

The fact that we started our Cabernet harvest today on a 35 degree day may have something to do with it but I have to tell you - it's hot.

Those that have been playing weather tracker lately will know that South Australia has been experiencing a heat wave this last week that was so kindly sent to us from the West of Oz. It seems that it's not just the classy Cab Sauv that's turning up the heat

The last couple of weeks have been perfect harvest temperatures for Riesling and Shiraz giving us warm, even days of late 20's with crisp, cool nights down to around 14 degrees C. We managed to harvest all of our delicate Riesling safely and with plans for cold soaking our Shiraz at the start of ferment, we had the perfect conditions.

With a warm week forecast we've had to jump to action to make sure that the flavours and tannin ripeness are captured at the perfect moment for the remainder of the blocks.

There is something about the classic Cabernet Sauvignon that proves its stature. Whilst the other grapes have been fighting for position, the composed Cabernet has maintained its poise, gone about its business of flavour development and maintained its condition - without fuss or maintenance. I rate that.

So after crushing I immediately noted a few important points;

Good fruit condition with crunchy skins and lignified seeds. Whereas Shiraz as a variety suffers from a little incontinence and tends to dehydrate rapidly, Cabernet can manage itself pretty well.

Lifted aromatics from the open fermenter that was unmistakably Cabernet like. Very important for varietal definition.

Acid retention. With the last few warm days I would have understood if the Cabernet had started to metabolise some acidity playing in survival mode. No drama here. This baby has endurance.

Clare Valley Cabernet is a beautiful blend of the sweet blackcurrant fruit and the lifted tobacco leafy notes that this varietal is renowned for. With some fine grained new French Oak barrels on their way, we will have the perfect home to see them build and layer.

Some of the greatest old Clare Valley wines I've been fortunate enough to taste were some of the great old Wendouree Cabernets or the old Leasingham Bin 56 Cabernet blends from the 70's.

These are wines that have great pedigree and if you can get your hands on any of them at auction you should jump at the chance.

As I've indicated previously, this variety is all about the skeleton. It's about having the foundation of backbone that a winemaker can build upon and help grow.

Of course its early days in the fermenter but I'm really excited that we will be producing some vino that shows some structure and texture but most importantly wines that are without question Cabernet like. I get the feeling this is to be a long term relationship.

Kerri Thompson is winemaker/director of KT & The Falcon