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Day 26 of Clare Valley Vintage - It's getting hot down here

Published:  23 July, 2008

G'day Folks. This vintage is HOT quite literally.

South Australia is officially experiencing its hottest ever recorded Autumn temperatures - since ever has been measured. I'm pretty sure that this means that the first week of March 2008 has successfully taken the trophy for the hottest week recorded since 1900. Ouch.

This comes after we've had to give a red card to the Eastern Australian Summer for being such a wet blanket. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have all my fruit harvested with the exception of some Grenache and Muscat and well if they can't stand the heat then they've gone soft.

Our weather patterns are a reminder that Australian wine country is so diverse. For those of you that haven't experienced the joy of being Down Under - if you were to super impose the map of Australia over the UK and Continental Europe then you can easily see that we cover many countries.

Quite obviously this also means a cellar full of wine styles. One state's trophy is another's wet blanket so it really is a journey of discovery.

Of course when anything out of the ordinary is thrown at you, one should really view it as an opportunity. Since I'm now in the fortunate position of not needing to worry so much about fruit intake I can choose to use this weather to my advantage. This is how

A warm ambient temperature means that cool ferments in refrigerated stainless steel tanks can be controlled more easily at a consistent temperature. The heat exchange tends to balance each other and reduces the fluctuations. Starting Riesling ferments in un-insulated tanks after the season has broken and our colder temperatures start- is asking for trouble.

Secondary malo fermentation in our red wines will be maintained at a warm even rate to completion. Saves unnecessary movements to warm the wines during this critical stage.

Those of us who are making fortified wine will have deliciously ripe sweet fruit characters to play with and although they are such a small percentage of the intake they're worth every last decadent effort.

Whilst other parts of the country and of course the state of South Australia are experiencing the mayhem of chaotic vintage intake because the weather is extreme I'm really excited about our next stage of winemaking. It just proves to me that when you have balanced vineyards, you find that you harvest at optimum flavour, timing and without the extremes.

Someone once told me that the world lets pass those people that know where they're going I like to apply this to my well cared for grapes as well they know how to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. In this heat.. that's very cool.

Kerri Thompson is winemaker/director of KT & The Falcon