Syrah-rah Boom-tee-ay

On Saturday, Colin suggested I put my ear to the bung-hole of one of the barrels of Syrah and listen. It was amazing! Have you ever heard the music made by the fermentation of grapes? You have to try – it’s incredible and I can’t really describe the feeling. The surprise element, of course, is that you don’t expect a barrel of liquid to be making such busy noises. Wooden barrels look, from the outside, so sleepy and contented, you’d expect the would-be wine inside to be the same. Not so. It’s as if a huge army of elves are at work, ensuring the malolactic fermentation is urging this grape juice on to its proper destination. It crackles and fizzes, but not in a champagne sort of way. I couldn’t stop listening and marvelling.

Then yesterday, when Colin went in to the winery, that same barrel was without its bung. We must have replaced it too firmly (which didn’t seem tight at all) which the elves didn’t like, so the fermentation blew the bung right out and across the floor of the winery, ending up on the other side of the room. It’s a timely lesson – if bungs are put in too tight and can’t blow out, the entire ends of barrels can explode, pouring precious wine all over the floor. I suspect that’s what some cheapskates scoop up and put into the cask wine which is guaranteed to make you extremely ill. Drink good wine, and you won’t get hangovers, is my motto.

In the vineyard, the 2009 vintage is now in the form of little flower buds. Difficult to photograph because they are so small against the intense green of the new grape leaves, I have nonetheless tried to capture some of the pinot noir flowers. They don’t look like flowers at all, more like miniature bunches of grapes.

Right now the vineyard is extremely vulnerable, and last night we had the telltale clear, cold sky with bright stars. Sure enough, early this morning the Frost Boss machines clicked into action and did their job, protecting the young flower buds from the fatally icy fingers of Jack Frost.

And speaking of making music, last night we went to see the movie “Young At Heart”. It’s the best movie I’ve seen for a long while – we cried buckets, and laughed fit to burst. It’s done documentary style, about a group of singers, average age 80-plus, and their musical director Bob, who give sell-out performances in the United States. Their sense of life, determination to live their lives to the full and ignore their terminal illnesses, or aches and pains, is so inspiring – everyone should see this movie. It should be compulsory in schools, because it also opens your heart to the fact that even though old people may sometimes look unattractive, they can still retain a wonderful ‘young at heart’ spirit. The oldies in this movie have a lot to tell us all. See the preview on YouTube.

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