There’s a change in the air and the light has gone pewter today. The Silvereyes (Zosteropslateralis) and Western Ringneck Parrots (Bernardius zonarius) have returned and their song drove me to the vineyard early. Like truck drivers parked outside a roadside café, their presence alerts me to the fact that the grapes are nearing peak ripeness. I am facing the crucial decision of when to pick the Cabernet, which is continues to gather flavor in the autumn air.
There’s much to consider, as I taste my way through the vines. It’s really a critical stretch of intuition – a test of how connected I am with this special patch of ground. I must call it correctly. Not only am I tasting and weighing the balance of ripeness and acidity in the grapes, the effect of the now tangible change of season, the weather (there’s rain coming), the biodynamic calendar, but also the very energy of the place, this moment in time, the entire cycle of the year. What energy do I want to carry forth in the wine?
What is the vineyard saying? The Cabernet’s leaves are beginning to show some autumn yellow but the canopy is largely green, in good balance and health, and could probably carry on for a bit longer. The grapes taste sublime, though, and I wonder can it get any better than this? If I wait too long, they’ll go flabby resulting in an ordinary wine.. The seeds are mostly ripe. The flavor is terrific and fresh, but some acidity is dropping out. Are they nearing the peak of their life force?
As I get deeper into the vines I have the impression that the grapes have actually changed overnight – the sweetness has taken an exquisite turn with remarkable shadings of flavor. I’m tasting an intricate blend of fruit and earth and time. And suddenly I’m in the zone, as one extraordinary taste follows another. I’m convinced withe I realize how I'd like to be drinking a blend of all of the characters that are showing now, so I schedule the pick.
If you are patient, in 2015 you’ll have a chance to taste this magic moment....