Baumé readings break new records!

Much of the 2016 vintage commentary has been about the outstanding quality of wines produced despite the sustained heat through February and March. There’s also been talk of ‘climate change’ but more to the point, the term ‘compressed vintage’ has been used across all regions.

Bouquets to the wineries that were on the front foot, anticipating the surge in baumé readings and sensibly varying the intake requirements early in the season to avoid disappointment all round in the form of diminished yields, increased water inputs and extra cost incurred in stripping back alcohol content.

Brick-bats to those that insisted on prescribed minimum baumés being achieved but then faltered when the ‘compression’ built up. Many of the grapes, still on the vine, are well and truly above the desired ‘range’.

The record reported to Riverland Wine thus far for 2016, was a reading of 18.2 for a red variety that was ‘required’ but hung out to shrivel by as much as 40%. That seems unreasonable.

With modern day technology, including very reliable medium and short-term weather forecasts, this is not necessary. What makes it even more ridiculous is that some wineries insist on twice weekly baumé testing and reporting from mid-January till the time the fruit is eventually booked in.

The blasé attitude of some field staff to the situations is very disappointing also. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate these ‘protocols’ and adopt a more businesslike approach to such an obviously inefficient system… for everybody. Baumes are sure to be one of the ‘challenges listed for the Workshops.

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