SEASON 2022: SPRING 2021 UPDATE
In the vineyard
Before moving to the autumn and winter part of the year, our Syrah was picked on 9 April and four bins went into whole bunch maceration for a week. It was in beautiful condition and as you will read below, we are excited about the wine prospects.
Back to the latest winter season, we’ve just endured a frustrating and difficult few months, with fairly constant rain and poor weather. Rainfall is currently expected to match the 2010 and 2011 years, which were the two wettest years we have experienced since establishing Lone Star Creek.
The immediate impact of these conditions has been to delay pruning to the latest ever time at Lone Star. Our usual pruning strategy involves cutting by contract crew and the team, followed by mechanical cane pulling with a Klima machine. These are fairly big and heavy, meaning a lot of impact on the soil during the process. Because of the wet winter, the Klima only gained access into the vineyard in mid-August, with crews and staff rushing to finish the wrap.
The worst of our wet winter was the 9/10 June event which dumped 150 ml of rain and raging winds. While our damage was nothing like as bad as other places, it was impactful nonetheless with drains and internal roads washed out and many big trees blown over. I suppose the upside was the filling of our empty top dam, which had been drained for a renovation.
Another effect of the wetness in the ground is the moderating effect water has on soil temperatures. Winter temperatures were also above the long-term average by 1.3 degrees. As a result, budburst began in late August, with our benchmark C Block Chardonnay popping on the 29th. Looking back over our diaries, this is the earliest since establishing the vineyard in 1997. Usually budburst occurs in the second and third weeks of September.
Lastly let me mention our B Block redevelopment – 1997 plantings of MV6 Pinot Noir. We have removed nearly 4,000 vines – about half of B Block. These were original plantings and a sad loss. However, we decided the time was ripe after some poor yields from this block in recent years and signs of stress in the vines. One significant benefit of this is a rejuvenation of the block and a shift to phylloxera resistant root stocks. We will also replant at a higher per hectare density to reduce fruit load per vine and increase (we hope) the quality of fruit for winemaking. Early days…
In the Winery
Looking at our 2021 season wines, we held a tasting in the barrel room at Hoddles Creek Estate in mid-June (after full malolactic fermentation for the reds and before the recent spate of lockdowns).
To say we are excited is somewhat of an understatement!
The view in the barrel room was that the 2021 wines will be amongst the best produced this century from Lone Star Creek Vineyard. And the best so far for our young wine label. Many pundits hold similar views across the entire Yarra Valley.
Here are some notes:
Pinot Gris: lighter coloured, powerful fruit and spice aroma, textural and lingering on the palate. Currently in tank, to be bottled later in September.
Chardonnay: Continuing the strong lineage from our site with white stone fruit, citrus and some vanilla oak aromas and complexity from the new Tarransaud barrique. Acidic, grippy and mouth filling. Very excited.
Pinot Noir: This season we had ten different picks in the vineyard and all are showing great promise.
For the first time we have a premium selection. It has rewarded the greater attention in the vineyard with intense aromas of dark berries, well integrated tannins, texture, and complexity with plenty of length.
We have used the new Tarransaud barrels on the individual fruit selections with great potential. The blending will be both interesting and exciting as we strive to deliver a premium wine of great quality and value.
Pinot Noir from all blocks is showing great consistency with classic pinot red berry aromas an integrated palate. The blended Lone Star selection will be a worthy representative of Pinot Noir from the site.
Syrah: may be last but not least. The fruit has been turned into a wonderful representation of cool climate Rhone style Syrah from the Upper Yarra. Not wishing to overstate our enthusiasm, this wine will turn heads and Franco is very excited with what he and the vineyard have produced. A bit of a wait though – at least mid-next year before release.
In the Bottle
Well, the big news for us is the results at the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion, released in mid-August.
This was our first entry to the wine Companion and the four-star Winery rating is an exciting start.
Here is the companion definition of a four-star winery.
★★★★ Very good producer of wines with class and character. Will have either one wine rated at 95 points or above, or two (or more) at 90 or above.
The team at the companion have streamlined the rating system and for a first entry, four stars is outstanding for Lone Star Creek Vineyard. We of course have the ambition to achieve higher ratings with future releases of ultra-premium quality Wines.
Over the past year we submitted nine wines for evaluation representing the 2019 and 2021 vintages. Every wine submitted achieved a silver medal result.
The specific results for wines on release were:
2020 Pinot Noir: 93 points
“Inoculated and aged 10 months in French barriques, 25% new. It seems reds, pinot noir particularly, come loaded with acid and a lighter frame this vintage. This is simply made but it’s a little beauty. A core of tangy juicy fruit, super fragrant and so juicy with shy tannins. A light red to enjoy in its youth. Spot-on.”
2020 Lone Star Red: 93 points
“60% pinot noir, all destemmed and 40% Syrah with 25% whole bunches, fermented separately. It’s part of the light dry red movement in the Yarra. This is just right. Savoury yet juicy, light and bright with enough textural tannins and lively acidity to go another round. Or three.”
2020 Pinot Gris: 92 points
“A lovely copper/pink blush; lots of crunchy red apples and pears too. Spicy with a squirt of lemon juice throughout. While it has texture, it’s quite a tight gris.”
2019 Chardonnay: 93 points
“Wild-yeast fermented, 9 months on lees in new and used French oak barriques. Has complexity on the bouquet, with grilled nuts, stone fruit, vanilla and some chalky minerality all part of the picture. It gives the impression of being a little lean on the palate, but the texture and acidity propel it along and it sustains well on the finish. Cool-climate elegance on show, you could say.”
2020 Chardonnay: 92 points
(Not yet released but not far away)
“Lots of zest appeal here, taking off with all manner of citrus flavours and lemon blossom florals too. There’s texture with some lees influence imparting grilled nuts and creamy curd. A shapely wine with soft acidity gently leading it to the finishing line.”
Four of the five wines listed above also red starred by the companion meaning they represent exceptional value for their price point.
In addition to these wines on release, all of the other four 2019 Wines submitted also received Silver medal level points, though sadly they are sold out from our online shop.
Never fear, we have reserved several dozen of all wines for future release in offers to members.
One of the challenges with the Halliday Wine Companion process is getting the wines in on time. The 2020 wines were all submitted in January and tasted in February this year, but the results were not released to either us or the public until mid-August. During this time every wine has changed significantly for the better in bottle. To our minds these scores represent the minimum expectation you should have from the wine.
Looking forward, we have quite a pipeline of activity.
We released the Fizzy Stars Field Blend PetNat in early August and the members amongst you will have received the offer via a separate email.
The 2021 vintage wines will be released progressively moving forward. And members will continue to receive good value offers for purchase.
Our October members offer is in development with some innovative six packs in the mix.
We are now working on changes to the website which will give members access to member only information and offers via their account.
Finally, a word about the pandemic. We have great sympathy for everyone adversely affected by the disease and its management by the authorities. Few have not felt the sting of the lockdowns – personally, professionally or in business.
Both we and our business have experienced ups and downs since the pandemic struck Australia; however, we are feeling optimistic about the future, particularly with the 2021 wines looking so good.
Everyone will have seen, if not experienced, the frustration of event cancellations due to the uncertainty of lockdowns. Similarly, we are cautious about the prospect of any events at the vineyard until we have a lot more certainty living with Covid.
We hope you continue to enjoy our wines in these uncertain times and we always welcome feedback from you on any matter of interest or concern.
Rob & Gill