Vintage 2017 - Tumultuous start!

2017 started off mostly cool and wet with budburst starting in the chardonnay block around the 10th of September, followed shortly after in the pinot noir block. By all accounts we had a very uniformed budburst, which is a good thing as the vines are at the same growth stages and makes canopy management easier. Conditions remained pretty challenging throughout spring with wet and cool weather. We had some warm humid conditions and windy days thrown in the mix too. By about the 21/11/16 we had flowering taking place with hot weather in the high 30’s this was followed up by a strong cold front  (right in the middle of flowering in the chardonnay and pinot noir blocks) then back down into the 20’s or colder with 63ml of rain. Following this we had another 23ml on the 8 /12/16 and 25ml on 29/12/16 followed by a 10/10/24 event (above ten degrees with 10ml of rain in a 24 hour period) these are the conditions required to activate the fungal spores of Downy Mildew. Consequently we have had pretty poor fruit set and we were expecting a smaller crop. By the end of December everything had settled down and the vineyard looked a picture with a beautiful deep green canopy and a reasonable looking crop level. Approximately 20% down on the previous vintage. By February we were still getting the odd rain event and although we irrigated the vines the pastures and country side remained green for the most part. 

Then on the 6/2/17 - 43ml and 19/2/17 - 35ml and snow in the Alps! Fortunately the vines were robust enough and came through unscathed.  

On the 26th February we picked sparkling base with some of the best figures we’ve had 10.5 B – 3.1pH – 12 TA.  All the remaining fruit was of outstanding quality across all varieties and we think it is possibly the best chardonnay fruit we’ve seen!

We have continued our work with the soils and the application of compost tea and in November we took soil samples from inside the vineyard and on the headlands to compare soil health and the results were very interesting. Here are the comments from the soil report made by Mary Cole…. sums it up nicely.

 

Comments: The difference in structure and moisture holding capacity was striking with the vineyard soil looking moist and textured and the head land soil dry and crumbly. No capeweed was visible in the vine rows where compost tea had been applied. A distinct boundary was visible showing the line where the compost tea application has ceased. The head land soil and beyond was covered with flowering cape weed. The biology showed the vineyard soils to be much more fungal dominated hence discouraging the fast growing capeweed.

Although there was no difference in the amount of plant available nitrogen being produced at the time the soil samples were taken, the soil structure and biological activity of the vineyard soil was much improved and the trend was for more activity in the spring.  Mary Cole PhD
Consultant Mycologist/Plant Pathologist

The 2017 vintage was finished just before the beginning of May and all the wines are in barrel or tank. The wines are looking great with intense flavours in the whites and great colour and tannin profile in all the reds, we continue doing a proportion of whole bunch and wild yeast ferments in the pinot noir and we are very pleased with the results. 

Vintage Report 2016

 

We have had a fantastic vintage this year. We started with an early budburst in both the pinot noir and chardonnay by the 7th of September 2015, with the other varietals following soon after that. Weather for the first part of the season was relatively stable, with pretty cool temperatures around the 14 to 16 degrees in early spring.

 

Summer was a warm and long one and resulted in an early vintage for most parts of southern Victoria. We were picking chardonnay grapes for our sparkling base very early, on the 13th of February with sugars at 10.6 Baume.

 

All varietals were early and the last picking day fell on the 22th of March when we picked our cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Crops were all healthy with no pests or disease and cropping at approximately 2.5 tonne to the acre.

 

All the wines are looking fantastic in regards to flavour, colour and structure.  There was little intervention needed to the fruit as we had near perfect figures with acids, sugars and pH very balanced. As in previous years, we are applying our compost tea and more which we are convinced is improving vine health and producing better quality fruit as noted above.

 

All our wines are in barrel and finished fermenting. We can declare vintage is done for another year. We have achieved some interesting pinot noir whole bunch ferments and wild yeast ferments. We are very pleased with the resulting wines so stay tuned!

 

It was a very successful vintage, albeit a very busy one, with the final stages of our new cellar door needing completion. This is finished now and we are open for business. We’ve included a menu for your interest and to check out some photos of the venue look on our Facebook page Cannibal Creek Vineyard.

 

Fortunately for us, Philippe Desrettes (Chef) and Karine Saille (Front of House Manager) have joined the team full time and both come with extensive hospitality experience (amongst other high profile gigs Philippe worked under the famous Pierre Koffmann in London, as did Gordon Ramsay who now owns it!) We are very privileged to have them on board as their food offering and service is outstanding.

 

All our wines are available for purchase through our website, our cellar door, or select stockists. Our 2011 Sparkling Blanc de Blancs has been written up in Tyson Stelzers Australian Sparkling Report 2016 and Included in The Hall Of Honour! The top 20% of all wines entered) We have given our label a facelift so look out for our beautiful new design!

 

The new cellar door is fantastic and if you have not had the chance to visit us yet, we encourage you to.  We are open 7 days a week 11am until 5pm with a simpler menu Tuesday and Wednesday when Philippe and Karine are having their “ weekend”. The atmosphere, food and wines are all looking so good! We have received such fantastic feedback so far from our visitors, and we would like to say Merci!

 

Upcoming events -- Celebrating Bastille Day Thursday the 14th of July from 6:30pm. Dress up in your best French gear… there will be exclusive wine offers and prizes for the best dressed!

Enjoy canapés on arrival and 3 courses of delicious French cuisine served on platters at communal tables. $105 per person includes matching Cannibal Creek wines. Other beverages including beer, soft drinks and an excellent selection of French wines are also available for purchase on the night.

Very limited seats- bookings essential We look forward to welcoming you all soon to Cannibal Creek Cheers from Pat,& Kirsten and Philippe & Karine 

Vintage report 2015

We’ve had an excellent 2015 vintage here at Cannibal Creek Vineyard. We got off to a cracking start with the mild weather in early spring. This encouraged flowering and resulted in perfect fruit set and berry development, with uniform berry sizes and great bunch weights. As a result of these ideal conditions we didn’t have to undertake fruit thinning or leaf plucking, and saved time and money in the process.

 

Over winter and after pruning, in an effort to boost the microbial biodiversity and population of beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa in the vineyard soil, we applied a compost tea mixed with seaweed and fish fertilizers. We also applied Humates, prehistoric decomposed plant and animal matter packed full of minerals and trace elements. We are lucky enough to have expert soil microbiologist Dr Mary Cole live nearby, who was able to advise and guide us through enriching our vineyard. Our efforts to boost the microbiology of our soil also paid off thanks to weeds’ aversion to fungal-dominated soils. Less weeds means less chemicals, good for us and good for our vines!

 

We had our first summer rain early in February, measuring 38mm, and towards the end of the month had another 14mm. Prior to this we hadn’t had any rain since December. During and up to harvest the weather remained quite stable and mild, and we only irrigated over a period of 4 weeks. Harvest went very smoothly and the wines are looking exceptional.

 

We believe that the 2015 vintage will be looked back upon as a very good growing season in southern Victoria, and many of our neighbours agree. However we think our vines look particularly fantastic, as can be seen in the health of the shoot growth, the thickness of the leaves and the balanced crop load. The resulting fruit quality has been outstanding, with perfect figures across all varieties. It is our firm belief that the efforts we put into our soil have made a real difference to the health of our vines, and we will keep pursuing this approach in our vineyard.

 

It’s been an incredibly busy season here for all of us at Cannibal Creek, with the new cellar door nearing completion! We are looking forward to welcoming you all very soon. To follow our progress, join us on Facebook.  We will endeavor to get our website updated soon.

 

We are extremely pleased with the 2015 vintage and are giving it a rating of 9/10. We hope you enjoy the vintage as much as we have. 

Vintage report 2014


Tough vintage this year with crops down 70% on average. On a typical year we’d be harvesting closer to 3 tonnes to the acre rather than under 1 tonne to the acre we’ve seen this vintage. This came about due to the poor weather conditions during flowering, mostly hail damage to the flowers causing poor fruit set. From what we’ve heard a lot of growers faced similar issues around the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Gippsland regions. The small amount of fruit we did get is big with character and what we lost in yield we feel will be made up for in quality. Look out for the 2014 wines! 

We have now finished with the picking and processing of the grapes and have turned our attention to our new cellar door development. The planning permit and working drawings are complete and we have set out the site for the excavation work, which should be starting any day now, weather permitting. We were hoping to have it open for the end of this year but due to some delays this may be put back. The new building will be a purpose built cellar door with commercial kitchen, private meeting/tasting room and verandas. A lower ground level consisting of a large single room in which we have plans on running DIY workshops, such as... “How to build your own wood fired pizza oven” Cheese making, etc. Updates on progress will be posted on our website on a regular basis and can be viewed at www.cannibalcreek.com.au 

We’ve done a bit more drainage work over the summer and have noticed a big improvement in the vine health, particularly in the low lying areas. We are exploring our soil health both biological and the chemistry with the view of organically boosting soil health with the use of compost teas. This can help organically control fungal diseases by building up diverse microbial activity in the soils and in turn develop very resilient vines. There has been some very positive results in the Yarra Valley, and it makes a lot of sense to us. We are looking forward to trialing this with the aim of no or very limited chemical use in the future. We will post reports on how successful we feel it has been as we learn more.

This year we have done 100% wild ferment with the pinot noir and you can already observe differences, particularly on the bouquet with a leaning towards savoury characters rather than fruit. It is going to be interesting to watch the development over the next twelve months and to decide whether we feel wild ferment fits with our terroir.

Tough start and poor volumes, but lovely fruit - vintage rating 7/10

 

Vintage report 2013

Bud burst was later than expected this season, only seeing the first buds appear in the sauvignon blanc in the beginning of October. It's usually more like the first or second week in September.

We made the decision to fertilize this year for the first time since the establishment stage. We did this because of the two very wet and cold years and the resulting reduced crop loads and shoot growth. It did prove to be a good thing, as the vigour was by no means excessive, with only the one pass to trim the vines being necessary. Extensive infrastructure work was done in the vineyard over this summer with the laying of agricultural drainage pipe on about 30 rows, the average length of each subsoil drain was 50 meters, all of which run into a main drain. This was a big job and should see approximately one acre of vines, which struggle in the wet springs, become productive again. Did seem like a funny thing to be doing when we've had such a dry and hot summer!  We have also renovated the irrigation system and now have it working 100%. We irrigated this year from the end of December onwards and the vineyard maintained a healthy canopy right up to harvest and beyond.

The fruit quality looked exceptional despite a heat wave in the final two weeks before harvesting. We started vintage off on the 22/2/13 picking chardonnay for sparkling base and by the 9/3 we had picked our sauvignon blanc. Over the weekend of the 16th we picked both the chardonnay and pinot noir, a big day processing 17 tonnes of fruit! The merlot and cabernet sauvignon were picked on the 7/4 and were in near perfect condition.

We have trialed two of our favourite yeasts this year in our pinot noir. We hope to gain further understanding of the differences, and it's proving to be very interesting already. We've observed different characteristics such as clarification speeds and distinct fruity characters in one and savoury in the other, it will be interesting to track the differences and compare the two finished wines. The chardonnay fruit was really some of the best I've seen and with next to perfect crop loads of 2 tonne to the acre or a little less in places,  we have a pretty good idea that this will be an excellent vintage for chardonnay. We are very pleased with the new direction we are taking with the sauvignon blanc. We are now barrel fermenting in barrels (puncheons 500L and barriques 228L) and we are already liking the results. We don’t seem to lose any of the fruit and fresh minerally character but gain more complexity and a fuller mouthfeel.

 All in all it has been an excellent vintage and we are rating it 8.5/10

Vintage report 2012

September 2011 - Slow start this year with bud burst patchy and late, I'd estimate approximately 2 weeks behind, this is despite rather mild weather. We had one of the warmest August's in 30 years...yet such a late start, which does suggest the vines are responding to the previous season being cool and wet, with limited sunshine. This lack of sun on the growing shoots effects the fruitfulness of the buds that are the shoots for the following season, mothernature regulating the crop to suit the different seasons!

Well as its turned out veraison started two weeks earlier than expected, particularly in the pinot noir which is unusual. It was pretty patchy with some bunches well ahead of others. The weather throughout January was summery and February, although cooler, was stable and really ideal ripening weather. We saw the ripening of bunches evenup to be small but beautifully formed grape bunches. In the middle of February we had Baume's of between 9 and 10 and with this trajectory we were on track to be picking in 4 weeks or so, this would have brought us to the 15th of March. The weather did take a turn for the worse, with rather cool to cold days, very wintery in fact. Despite this we were very close to our predicted start of vintage and we started picking sauvignon blanc on the 13/3/12 and went on with picking the pinot and chardonnay on the 25/3/12. Crops levels were down with under 1 tonne to the acre on average, although low crops are desirable this is really too low! The up side is quality is looking outstanding thus far. The reds are all pressed and safely in barrel, the whites are in tank and barrel- all fermenting away!

Cheers for another vintage complete, number 14 for us, we're racking them up!

Pat and Kirsten

Vintage rating 8.5/10

Vintage report 2011

Never have we had so much disease pressure in the vineyard as this vintage! It has been absolutely constant, and it's required relentless attention to detail and scrutiny of our management practices most of all the spray program and canopy management.


 We had an early outbreak of powdery mildew, which we responded swiftly to with our "shock and awe program” spraying almost weekly! Fortunately we've managed to keep that at bay! Downy mildew has just not let up either, all that's required for an out-break is the conditions of 10, 10, 24.This translates to 10 mm of rain with the temperature remaining above 10 degrees within a 24 hour period and it's guaranteed! We've had event after event the up side is of all the fungal problems it is the easiest to control.


We picked the sparkling base on the 12/3/2011 and it looked great. On the 29th of March we picked the Sauvignon Blanc and the fruit also came in very clean with great figures, there was only small patches of botrytis rot.Due to this and the late out break of powdery mildew on the leaves in the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks (doesn't affect the fruit at this stage as the sugar in the grapes prevent the fungus from growing) it prompted us to move as soon as practical onto picking the Chardonnay' we did this on Saturday the 2/4/2011, this is very late for us! It's not since vintage 2000 that we were running to this timetable. So it's not un heard of to be starting vintage this late but not what we have grown use to in the last decade. Again the figures although lower in sugar levels were very good and in balance and most importantly the fruit tasted ripe! There was quite a lot of sorting to do and we had two people working on the sorting table all day weeding out any remnants of powdery mildew!
On the 17/4/2011 we picked the Pinot noir, it was very much the case of holding our nerve a bit here as we were determined not to panic and pick to soon but to wait for the flavors to improve, this is all possible if there is a canopy to support the fruit and you do get some sunshine and the figures stay in balance.... acid and pH and sugars! And of course it all doesn’t just fall to bits on you.... bunch rot, berries shriveled. So there we were telling ourselves to "hold", "hold"! It was a good decision and we think we've nailed it?
Now last but not least we picked the merlot and cabernet Sauvignon on the 25/4/2011 and it also came in with very good figures... No estate wines needed any adjustments this year, that doesn’t happen very often!


We have for the first time decided to blend the two Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet/Merlot) this year and are presently deciding on what we'll call the blend.... perhaps Blend Number 1. Stay tuned!


All the wines are safely in barrel.... time to relax?
Cheers Pat and Kirsten

Vintage rating 5/10

Vintage Report 2010

We had fairly mild and calm weather leading up to vintage 2010. The crop levels were excellent pinot came in at just over two tonne s to the acre and only required a light shoot thinning. There was no need to leaf pluck this season as the ground moisture was modest and the vigor was manageable this combined with a dry February and March resulted in leaf drop coiciding with fruit ripeness.

Picking commenced on the 21/3/10 and went with out note apart from a minor hiccup or two........due to a very busy lead up to vintage and the availability of labour at the critical time we decided to pick the fruit from underneath the nets, this was the first time and although it does make it difficult having to nergociate hanging nets and long grass it did prove to be a good move because at the end of picking the pinot noir (we had almost picked the entire Pinot block) a spectacular storm struck and the heavens opened up hurtling hail stones the size of golf balls at us! Guess what? They bounced of the nets but absolutely stripped any growth that had managed to poke it nose through them! Breaking the clear plastic roofing sheets and damaged many cars including ours, but the fruit was saved, undamaged! Under the protection of the nets.

The remaining fruit was picked some days later. On the other hand we were flooded, the winery had a river running through it (momentarily) and we were all washed out. The resulting wines look great particularly the Pinot and we look froward to sampling them our selves when they are ready. Every vintage is an adventure full of laughter and tears! This one proved to be just that but a success in the end

Vintage Rating 9/10

Cannibal Creek Vintage Report 2009

2009 saw extreme weather conditions the worst of which was Black Saturday, when Victoria had its worst bushfires possibly ever. We were six km from the Bunyip State Park fires, a very distressing time for everyone.

Prior to that day we experienced 3 consecutive days of heat above 45 deg C, what this did to the vines was terrible, it literally cooked two thirds of the crop, the berries fried on the vines and a considerable amount of the canopy died too. From there on in we had to limp across the line to ripen what was remaining and we used every lick of water we had to do so! Fortunately we escaped any smoke taint which affected many growers this year. Despite these challenging conditions, what did remain was very good. The stand outs would have to be the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Our latest news and something we are very much looking forward to, is the addition of Sparkling to our range “Blanc de Blanc”! Although this will not be ready for at least 18 months or longer.... something to look forward.

Cheers Pat & Kirsten

Vintage Rating 7/10

Cannibal Creek Vintage Report 2007

Vintage this year has been testing to say the least, I will start with the major event on October the 16th2006 but firstly I would like to remind you of the 2006 winter which was the driest year any of us had seen in this district for as long as we remember.

This made for an early budburst and a picture perfect vineyard, until these dry conditions caused a late, black (no visible ice) frost which caused 100% of the vineyard being burnt off at the stage of the shoots being about 300ml long, let’s says six weeks in to the growing season. Devastating!

What we decided to do within days was to call the winter pruners back in and cut off all growth and force the vine to call on its second shoot to grow. This was unknown territory for me and my focus at that stage was to gain enough shoot growth so as the vines would be fruitful the following year (dictated by sunlight on the shoot the previous season).

As it turned out, after much watering and some fertilizer we managed to set a crop and ripen successfully a small vintage of less than one tonne an acre and from what I see at the moment it’s looking pretty good.

As they say ‘it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’, as due to being six weeks retarded in the growth cycle we managed to miss the smoke taint problems suffered by so many. Another eventful and challenging year put to bed!

Cheers Pat

Vintage Rating 6/10

Cannibal Creek Vintage Report 2006


We have never seen such an early vintage as this before, all the grapes had been picked and it was still the middle of April, normally we would only have just started. The fruit looked fantastic and all the figures (flavours, acid and sugars) were as close to perfect, just what we were looking for. If I had to pick, I would say Pinot and the Cabernet are the stand outs in the reds even though it's early days! The Sauvignon Blanc is also looking very smart and is much on the same lines as the 2005 vintage, this should be available sometime in early September 2006. I haven't mentioned the Chardonnay, it is probably the fruitiest I've seen at Cannibal Creek and I'm looking forward to tracking it's progress over the year.

What has characterized this vintage is how early it has been and the consistently warm weather has been great for ripening. We also saw a very healthy canopy due to good soil moisture levels, because of careful management and the good climatic conditions, resulting in great balance in the fruit and low pH's. Perfect!

Cheers Pat

Vintage Rating 8/10

Cannibal Creek Vintage Report 2004

Bumper vintage right across Eastern Australia, Cannibal Creek included with tremendous quality fruit across the board. Flowering was uninterrupted with settled weather conditions, this resulted in great fruit set and followed by a mild and dry summer the fruit was looking great.  We crop thinned in early summer to ensure cropping levels were not to high and fruit quality was maintained. One of the characteristics of this vintage was the berry size and weights which where very high, particularly in the pinot noir.  We have trialed extended maceration this year and a couple of new yeasts.

All the wines are looking good so far and I’ve got a feeling this may be the best yet for the chardonnay. Sauvignon blanc is also coming along nicely and will ready for release early summer. There was agreat combination of ripe fruit characters from the front of the block mixed with green and herbaoues characters from the back of the block. This is what we are looking for in a sauvignon blanc , both the ripe and full bodied mouthfeel coupled with the citrus and lively characters on the nose. The merlot and cabernet sauvignon are looking superb after achieving full ripeness. They should be something to look forward to!

7/10

 

 
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