Verdelho is a much maligned grape variety. It’s originally Portuguese and would be used for fortified wine production in Europe, but in Australia we really revere the variety for its ability to hold acid in warm climates and for those really rich punchy, tropical fruit characters it produces. In Western Australia particularly, Verdelho has a long and rich history.
Verdelho is ideally suited to the warmer climates of the Perth Hills. It retains natural acids well and achieves generous tropical fruit flavours at ripeness.
Our Verdelho is a clean crisp fruit driven style that displays the natural attributes of the variety.
At Myattsfield we make a crisp fruit driven style designed for early consumption, really showing off the attributes of the grape variety with lovely crisp acidity and ripe tropical fruit characters.
On the nose it’s very lifted, with passionfruit, lychee and guava notes.
On the palate, unlike some other whites, Verdelho always carries a little texture and roundness to the palate. So you get those lovely rich tropical fruit characters but also a soft rounded style palate which allows it to be matched with richer foods.
Whilst Verdelho has a lovely freshness about it also has a richness and generosity of fruit flavour which I think allows this wine to be matched with slightly heavier dishes than with traditional whites so it will match well with seafood and chicken as well as heavier style terrines.
Verdelho is grown at our on the Eastern facing slopes of our Carmel Valley Vineyard. The morning sun helps to clear early morning dew reducing the risk of mildew which the variety has a great affinity for. The entire vineyard is planted on the drought tolerant rootstock Paulsen 1103. This has helped the hardiness of the vines and allows the entire block to be effectively dry grown.
During the season the canopy is trimmed and we typically fruit thin to moderate yield and leaf pluck to open the canopy and reduce disease pressure.
Deciding on when to harvest is alway problematical. We know the grapes reach flavour ripeness at quite a high baumé, and the game we always play is when to pick.The later we leave it the more rich tropical fruit flavour we’ll get but of course the more potential alcohol we might produce.
After hand harvesting the fruit is chilled before crushing and pressing. Verdelho has a very thick skin and to avoid any hard phenolics we use a very gentle press cycle and keep yields to around 600 litres/ tonne. Fermentation is completed in stainless steel with yeasts strains selected for fruit purity. The wine is clarified and stabilised for an early bottling but given a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release.
There are 3 major decisions to made in the Verhelho production process. The first is the harvest date. We know it reaches flavour ripeness and quite a high baumé, and the game we always play is when to pick.The later we leave it the more rich tropical fruit flavour we’ll get but of course the more potential alcohol we might produce. The idea is to get a palate which is rich with fruit flavour without having that hot alcoholic finish.
Once that decision has been made and the grapes are in the winery, the second major decision is how hard to press. Verdelho has a very thick skin and it is easy to extract those very dry, bitter phenolics from the skin. So when we are pressing the grapes we’re very careful not to extract those bitter compounds from the skins. It’s a game of chicken, you want as much juice as you can get but none of the bitterness. Usually we pull the pin on around 550 to 600 litres of juice per tonne of grapes, which is pretty lean for a white grape, considering most white grapes can give you up to 750 litres a tonne.
The third major decision in the winery with Verdelho is acidity. It naturally has rather soft, rounded palate and if we’re too gung ho with acid addition we end up countering that natural characteristic which is not a great outcome for the wine balance so we try to ensure that there is enough acid in this wine for the palate to finish dry and crisp without compromising those soft rounded fruit flavours.