Moss Wood 2002 Chardonnay
The Moss Wood 2002 Chardonnay is quite restrained on the nose with honeysuckle, honeydew melon, orange peel and grapefruit aromas and well integrated cedary oak. Although the bouquet will open with time, the nose is not as immediately appealing as the palate. This shows peach, orange zest and grapefruit flavours, underlying power, richness and depth and soft oak on a lingering finish. The wine is intense, fine, well balanced and has excellent length.
Margaret River had been fortunate to have several good growing seasons in a row with vineyard yields excellent in 1999, 2000 and 2001. This brings out the conservative farmer in the Moss Wood team because we know the law of averages is starting to work against us. History tells us that, in at least two years in five, we will lose a significant part of the crop, especially with chardonnay. A quick look at the numbers showed that the last wipe-out was in 1997 so we faced the 2002 harvest with a degree of trepidation.
Someone must have tempted the fates because warm conditions during the early part of winter confused the vines and an early budburst began in the chardonnay in mid-July. The relatively normal winter conditions that prevailed after that were not conducive to good shoot growth nor flowering. We were, therefore, confronted by the Margaret River chardonnay problem: very few bunches formed and those which did flowered very poorly and set very few grapes. The net result was a major crop loss of 60%.
Not all the news was bad. The cool and mild conditions prevailed right through the summer and this produced some particularly good white wines. Although we did not make much, at least what we did make was good. The intensity and freshness of the fruit characters is very good and the hallmark of the 2002 vintage.
The volume of Moss Wood Chardonnay dropped from 1090 cases in 2001 to 450 cases in 2002. This shortfall made the availability of chardonnay from other vineyards particularly appealing to the management team.
Each of the chardonnays made at Moss Wood in 2002 were made using the same traditional method. This means differences between the wines are entirely due to differences between the sites from which the grapes were sourced.
The bunches of grapes were destemmed, crushed and pressed: the must was chilled to 12 degrees Celcius, allowed to settle for 48 hours and then racked to stainless steel tanks (with 2% solids included) and inoculated with pure yeast culture to begin fermentation. Once the juice had come down to 11 degrees beaume, it was transferred to 100% new French oak where it remained during fermentation and for 10 months afterwards.
The barrels were lees stirred every day until the onset of malolactic fermentation. On this occasion, 50% of each of the wines underwent malo. When the wines had finished oak maturation, they were fined, cold stabilised, filtered and then bottled.
With the experience of the vertical tasting of Moss Wood Chardonnays, we believe that the 2002 will improve in the short to medium term and, if well cellared, will be looking good at ten years of age. Optimum drinking 2014.