2017 Willowlake Sauvignon Blanc

Willowlake Vineyard Sauv Blanc 2017.jpg

I’ve decided to write about the three single vineyard sauvignon blancs from 2017 as a group. Individual winemaking & vineyard details for the above wine is below, But, having made sauvignon blanc from the Upper Yarra since 2012, when the variety was perhaps at the lowest point in it’s popularity within the region, I think we’re in a good position to reflect a little…….

To claim to have revitalised interest in what the variety is capable of doing, when made with thought & care, is bold. And it’s not in our nature to make bold statements. But I do think we’ve had more than a hand in helping wine writers, sommeliers, winemakers & the general public realise that Australian sauvignon blanc can be a bloody interesting drink. We’ve also, during the course of this journey, been able to further & further refine our approach to its production.

The percentage of new oak has dropped, as has time in barrel. We see new oak (generally now around 5-10%, although the 2017 Lone Star has none) to be something that adds texture & spice, but even any hints of “woody” or “new barrel” flavours are not on the agenda. And bottling is always early.

We rarely use sulphur dioxide before winter & then it’s used sparingly. It’s about locking in what we love, that balance between fruit & savouriness, & getting the wine safely to bottle.

We’ve never acid adjusted, used yeast, any fermentation aids, malo cultures or any fining agents. I think we tried to cold stablise the wines once & then thought “what the hell was that about?”.

Texture is clearly incredibly important. All the wines are pressed hard & spend their days on lees up until bottling. We stopped any filtration several years back, preferring to clean the wine via racking. To that end we’ve even pushed things a little further this year, racking the wines only once – bottled “sur lie” if you like. So yes, they’re cloudier in 2017.

But I think the overarching them of what I’m trying to say is over the course of this ride we’ve learnt to do less & less & trust some great old sites, whilst still ensuring the juice is interesting, delicious & brings you more & more of how the vineyard, season & variety taste.

Wine is, after all, a drink.

Volume: 615 dozen

Site: Willowlake Vineyard, Gladysdale (Yarra Valley), Victoria.

Winemaking: Hand picked. 80% of the fruit pressed to barrel and then wild yeast fermented and matured in 5% new/95% used French oak barriques and hogsheads. The remaining 20% of the fruit was wild fermented as whole bunches in 2 separate batches, one for 5 days & the other for 10, then pressed to old French barriques. Partial MLF, racked & blended, settled (but not fined or filtered) and then into bottle. No additions other than sulphur dioxide.

Alcohol: 12.5%