Newsletter Winter 2009

2009 VINTAGE REPORT
The season began quite normally, or seemed normal, as we start to call the drought “normal”! The 2008 winter was once again dry, but we ended up with pretty decent spring rain giving shallow soil moisture to help the vines and olives shoot away in the spring.

The 21st of October 2008 was a great day for Molly Jade Statham, the first of the 4th generation at Rosnay, who had her second birthday. But for the rest of the family, it was a scary moment, as a cool change swept across and brought a late frost which wiped out the bottom of the Cabernet Sauvignon. There was not much we could have done about it, except maybe mow the grass more diligently, but we were quite lucky compared to others in the district.

The season rolled on quite well from there, and we treated the vines with the biodynamic preparations to enliven the soil and toughen the leaves against mildew. In fact we had no need to spray the vines with sulphur at all, as our most susceptible variety, chardonnay, we had lopped off at the cordon to rework to a higher cordon (ie we cut the vines off to retrain them, thus losing all fruiting buds). The reason for this is so that we can graze sheep in the chardonnay throughout the year for better weed control, canopy management and airflow to reduce disease. We hope it works!

We now look forward to the block coming back into production because, Murphy’s Law, the one year when we skip a crop to rework the cordon, we had a very successful vintage of Chardonnay, and we have almost run out of stock. Our first batch of sparkling chardonnay became our most successful wine ever, with some great reviews, and holding the bottle shop speed record, selling at a rate of a bottle per minute!

February was of course a heatwave, and whilst Victoria was ablaze, and our own skies were hazy with smoke, we were fortunate not to suffer as they did down there. By the time we began to harvest the weather did become milder, and we ended up picking a good crop all round, especially the Semillon and the Shiraz.

In the olive department, we have now harvested and pressed the Corregiola olives and the oil has almost finished settling. Some customers have already got in early and ordered oil straight from the press, but we do prefer to let the oil settle for 2-3 months before bottling. The kalamata olives have been picked, and are pickling now in 800litre vats of brine. The kalamatas looked good this year, with perhaps 10% shrivelled or second grade fruit, for olive paste, and perhaps 10% green and nutty fruit, which just adds the the unique flavours of every jar. The pickling process will take about 6 months and for the first time we will probably have enough fruit for some bulk sales (20litre buckets) for the really avid consumer!
WALLINGTON ADDS TO COWRA’S GREEN REVOLUTION
Have you heard on the Biodynamic grapevine that Wallington Wines have become the latest addition to Cowra’s “green viticulture” revolution? Margaret Wallington is now converting all of her farm, including the vines, to Biodynamic methods, certified by Australian Certified Organic. This is great news, as it brings the number of organic or biodynamic producers in the region to four, as Cowra seeks to catch up with the pioneering region of Mudgee, as the “most organic” in our Central Ranges Wine Zone, and even Australia (4 out of 14 producers organic/biodynamic).

Its just one of a lot of things going on in the Cowra-Canowindra wine region, as part of our regional Environmental Plan. Our President, Tom Ward of Swinging Bridge Estate , is presenting Cowra’s environmental progress to the 5th Australian Wine Industry Environment Conference in Adelaide this year.

NEW WINE LAUNCHES – PLENTY TO CELEBRATE HERE
All of the current release Rosnay wines have been picking up medals in shows over the last year. The latest release is the long awaited 2009 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, which promises to be one of the best wines we have made. It got a medal at the organic wine show just a week after bottling, and a medal at the Cowra Wine show two seeks later! It was made with 30% Biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc sourced from Orange to follow the successful blend released for the first time last year. The 2009 Rose will be released on 1 August, followed in late August by the 2009 Sparkling Chardonnay and, for the first time, a sparkling Rose (Shiraz-Mourverdre).

As a member of the Rosnay news list you can take advantage of an exclusive pre-release special offer on these new wines, with the 2009 New Release Tasting 6-Pack including a bottle each of the new 2009 SSB, 2009 Rose, 2009 Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay, 2009 Sparkling Rose, 2009 Olive Oil and of course a jar of olives and olive paste, all delivered in a beautiful pine box. We are now taking orders for delivery on 1 September. To find out more go to www.rosnay.com.au/virtuemart/475.html or call us direct on 1300 ROSNAY (1300 767629).

Not to be outdone by the new wines, the Rosnay Triple Blend continues to be our Signature red wine and we are celebrating all of our winter warming reds with a special web only pine box six pack offer. Order at www.rosnay.com.au/virtuemart/473.html or also by calling us.

RIVERS ROAD ORGANIC FARMS – A MODEL OF SUSTAINABLE SUBDIVISION
Sam recently spoke at the Blue Mountains meeting of the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, sharing an organic farmers perspective on the issues of urban growth in Australia’s coastal food bowls. He pointed out how Rivers Road Organic Farms is an example of a working balance of residential and agricultural values. Now over a decade since inception, RROF has reached a state of balance, with almost no motions on the agenda at the last AGM!

We want to show other people what is possible, both here and at other similar developments in Cowra Shire, so we hope to organise a tour to the region from Sydney soon. Watch this space, and let us know if you could be interested. (By the way – there is a block up for sale which could be ideal for you – call Mary on 0428 442735 for info).

NO MORE BURNING EYEBALLS
To digress briefy, when looking back at past vintages, they all seem milder than back in 2001 when we had many days at 50 degrees C in January. Though we are certainly still in a drought, I can’t look you in the eye and say “its been getting hotter every year”. I’ll never forget the feeling, in 2001, of burning eyeballs riding the motorbike to the pump shed through air so hot and still it was like hot soup, frantically hoping the river had water in it. It was scorching.

If we weren’t skeptical of mainstream “science”, whether it be agricultural chemicals, genetic engineering or nuclear power, we would not be organic and biodynamic farmers. We are always open to both sides of a debate, and recently I was challenged to read www.climatesceptics.com.au . To a long time beleiver, I am now very challenged! This is not to say I beleive either argument right now – we need to be in a healthy state of open mindedness, and we are all still huge renewable energy supporters. In fact we recently installed 3KW of solar power (total of 48 grid-connected solar panels) on Rosnay, as part of the Cowra Community Grid!

ANOTHER GREAT ORGANIC WINE SHOW – AND CONGRATS TO THISTLE HILL
As founding committee member of the Australia New Zealand Organic Wine Show, Sam decided to help out this year as a show steward. The view from the venue, Level 43 of the MLC Centre (DSRD headquarters), was nearly as stunning as the record lineup of organic and biodynamic wines. The slurping of the juding panel, headed by Max Allen and including Vanya Cullen, Jon Osbeiston, Gill Gordon Smith and Renee Foster, could be heard and smelt down the departmental hallways, hopefully leading to more exports of Australian wine. In the back room our enthusiastic team of stewards poured the record 146 wines to the dedicated panel, following strict protocols and ensuring good coffee and cake was provided to relieve their jaded wine palates.

At the end of the day some interesting results were released and it was great to see the Gil Wahlquist Trophy go to Thistle Hill (Mudgee, Central Ranges) as a well deserved “last hurrah” for Lesley Robertson as a pioneer in the industry who recently passed the reins of Thistle Hill to new owners.

Results for Rosnay were, again, “consistent” medal winning wines, with medals awarded to four out of the 7 wines entered. This average result is consistent with all past shows, since 2005. It reflects the simple, natural winemaking style that expresses the Canowindra terroir without new-age varieties, fining agents, expensive oak or selected fruit from growers in distant regions. You can see the full results online at www.organicwineshow.com.au .

ART AND ABOUT – SPONSORSHIP OF THE ARTS AND CHARITIES
For the tenth year in a row, Richard organised a concert by the students of the Sydney Conservatorium , in May, and sponsored the NSW concert series of the Flinders Quartet , from Melbourne. For the second year, Sam organised the Avant Garden Bar at Peats Ridge Festival . Art galleries directly sponsored include Renew Newcastle , and Zakay Glass Creations in Byron Bay, as well as The Poets Union monthly recitals in Sydney and the premieres of Whaledreamers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Rosnay is also the ongoing wine sponsor of the MINDD Forum in Sydney as well as various other charities, schools and environmental causes. We enjoy finding creative ways to support the arts, charity and the environment, and are open to your feedback or suggestions.

BIODYNAMICS SEMINAR AT ASVO CONFERENCE – TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE
Sam will be speaking about biodynamic viticulture at the conference of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology , in Mildura, this week. Sam and Richard have been applying the Steiner principles at Rosnay since 1997. The transcript of the talk is available on the Rosnay website Articles page . Sam also recently posted a video on biodynamics on YouTube .