Domaine A is set in one of the most pristine natural environments in the world.
Established in 1973, the historic Stoney Vineyard is the oldest in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley. Just half an hour's drive from the city of Hobart, the 11ha single vineyard domaine is owned and operated by H. Peter and Ruth Althaus. It is the culmination of a long and exhaustive world-wide search for terroir ideally suited to cool-climate viticulture.
Ancient soil and truly cool climate give rise to inspirational terroir founded on 200 million year old Jurassic Dolerite. Domaine A lies on a north facing slope that enjoys a temperate maritime climate and extended sunlight hours over a long, cool season. Domaine A experiences some of the longest sunshine hours in Australia, ensuring grapes ripen to develop the full spectrum of varietal character. The vineyard is close planted in the European tradition (1.9 x 0.9m), with a density of 6000 vines per hectare. The sloping North-North Easterly aspect and foliage height of 1400mm enables vines to take full advantage of prolonged sunshine. Annual rainfall is often less than 500mm. Grapes ripen well into late April and early May, bringing flavours of great subtlety and intensity to the wines.
Varieties grown include red grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir and the white grape Sauvignon Blanc.
Peter Althaus personally selects the fruit for harvesting. During the cool days of Autumn when the fruit is at the point of optimum ripeness and flavour it is hand-picked and crafted with minimal intervention. The wines are made without compromise in the spirit of the finest traditions of winemaking.
It is a strange sensation sitting writing this years vintage report when we would normally still be doing the last of our picking. That has all been done 3 weeks ago and we are beginning to look at the blending process to highlight the 2016 vintage.
It is no secret that it has been a year of extremes, the driest ever Spring followed by the warmest Summer on record. In many crops this would be a stressful and difficult year, the paradox is that for us, it has resulted in an easy, happy and potentially outstanding vintage.
As we have mentioned in previous vintage reports the vines at Domaine A are grown without artificial irrigation. This has resulted in deep rooted, self-sufficient vines that cope well with climatic stress.
With pruning and the tying down of canes well completed we had adequate rainfall in the month of August to give the plants a good reserve for the start of the growing season. All risk of frosts passed and we moved into the months September and October where we were gifted the most perfect flowering conditions, beautiful warm, sunny breezy days with an average temperature of 22 degrees and virtually no rain. This allowed a complete and even fruit set.
There was little to note as we moved through a calm Summer and although it was dry a large rainfall on the 27th of December replenished and invigorated the vines. Daily averages of 24 degrees continued through January but with virtually no extremely hot days.
Early February really hastened the ripening ( veraison) process, many days having 10 or more hours of sunlight and temperatures again averaging 24 degrees. The clear skies meant we also had cool nights which are essential in the growing of balanced cool climate grapes.
With great anticipation we began picking our Sauvignon Blanc on the 10th of March and the first indications were that this would be an excellent year with quality matching desired quantity.
The Pinot Noir quickly followed and then after a week of waiting we moved on to the Merlot which gave us the most wonderful results. Our mainstay of Cabernet Sauvignon began on the 29th of March and our final day of picking was on the 5th of April with the Petit Verdot rounding off what was a smooth and very enjoyable month of picking. The variety of people who come to pick at Domaine A is always a source of pleasure and interest and we thank them for the part in bringing our wines to you.
We consider this year to be an excellent vintage, we have taken great care to work with nature to bring to you, grapes not only of the highest quality but that also reflect our very special location in a very particular year. 2016 a year to look forward to ….