Picking started after dawn; they needed the sun to warm the grapes up a bit. Wines are loath to start fermenting if the grapes are below 53-57 degrees F., especially when relying on indigenous yeasts, as they do at Water Wheel. The “cap” of skins was lightly washed down with fermenting wine in the morning and plunged later in the day. After 5 days the skins looked a bit bleached; the wine was run off and the press wine kept separate. The latter ended up a little lighter than the run off wine – perfect timing. WW red wines follow the familiar path of aging in oak barrels, typically for two years. Most barrels are American oak hogsheads (of 300L. or 400 bottles) and they aim for 20% new oak each year. Maturing wine in barrels is an essential part of a red wine’s development in this part of the world. The hard tannins literally fall away, while the younger barrels also add the sweetness of fresh oak and spice.
Water Wheel Vineyards is the brainchild of Peter Cumming. His family has long been established as successful growers of tomatoes and cherries at Bridgewater-on-Loddon to the north-west of Bendigo in central Victoria. This is where the gold rush hit Australia in the 1850’s. The nearby town of Bendigo was built on the back of the gold mining industry back then and today is more of a university town. Fruit grown in this region is characterized by massive concentration, higher octanes and wonderful high natural acid levels, which keep these monolithic wines in balance. The diurnal temperature swing, around harvest time, is often over 50 degrees F each day. This makes for some really BIG wines, that age beautifully! Peter has picked the very best parcels of fruit for this wine, and the blend will change slightly each year, depending on Mother Nature. The 2020 vintage is blend of mostly Shiraz, with some Cabernet Sauvignon. As is Peter’s customary style – this wine punches well above its weight class!