By mid-January it was not looking good. For weeks we'd been on high alert for fires. Then came smoke. We'd gone through all this before, in 2007 and again in 2009, when we decided not to make wine. On January 15th I went to Brown Brothers in Milawa where I learnt total smoke exposure at multiple sites in the North East had already exceeded the level beyond which smoke taint is certain.
SMOKE TAINT ANALYSIS
You don't have to struggle through it. Everything undetectable. That's all that matters. We couldn't believe our luck. But then I thought: even if we're certain our grapes are clean, who's going to buy a 2020 Pinot from NE Victoria after all the media coverage about smoke taint? So we hedged our bets and made a tank of Rose.
Saignee means bleeding, and that's the technique we used this year: the grapes are cooled and crushed, allowed to cold soak on skins for 6 hours, then a quantity of pink juice is strained off to make Rose, leaving the rest of the must together with all of the skins and pips to make our usual Burgundian style of Pinot. The key difference is the grapes are picked at Pinot ripeness (13-13.5 deg Baume) rather than the 11-12 deg more usual for Rose. Everything worked. Beautifully. I am extremely pleased with both the Rose and this year's Pinot, though there won't be much of the latter. But, Hell, if youse bastards aren't up to try it we'll drink it all ourselves.