26 Apr Vintage 2017
BOOM! and vintage has been and gone! In 2016 we received 784mm of rain with the bulk of it occurring in May, June, July and September. This set the vintage in great stead. Super saturated soils pre-budburst meant that the vines had every opportunity to grow good canopies and balanced crops. The location of our vineyards mean we naturally receive early budburst due to the north facing slopes. This year we late pruned the Cabernet and the Mataro to help slow the onset of early budburst and help reduce the incidence if high alcohol wines with rapid sugar accumulation. It so happened that this process was not required this year as the vintage chugged along slowly at its own pace. The continual rain and cooler weather held back ripening naturally. With the soil profile full of moisture from the ample rain, irrigation was hardly required at all. The battle most growers had this year was ensuring a good spray regime and tackling pesty weeds that were a never-ending battle due to the wet and cooler conditions. A good supply of preventative downey and powdery sprays steered us away from any disease problems.
Late Shiraz ripening had many winemakers nervous and on the hop to pick based on the last few years. In 2013 to 2016 we have experienced excessively early vintages with some Shiraz blocks being picked in early Feb due to dry winters and hot summers. Although many old timers (I guess I’m starting to fall into this category) remember the vintages like 2007 and 2000 where cooler summers prevailed and more elegant wines were showcased and winemakers needed to heed some restraint in harvest decisions or they would be landed with green fruit.
Shiraz of 2017 show promise to be some of our finest – expressing great character, structure and elegance – minus the big massive alcoholic characteristics that we can sometimes get. That being said, Cabernet has been the sleeping giant. The wines I have seen thus far have amazing varietal character, fruit richness and a lovely teardrop palate shape that lingers. Mataro is a variety that flourishes in the hot dry climates and like to pronounce 15.9% alcohol as its standard operating procedure. This year I saw flavor in this variety at 12 baume and even contemplated picking it at such. Although I held my nerve and allowed 14% instead. The 2017 Mataro is showing beautiful Amarillo, dark cherry and cinnamon characters. It’s the truest varietal driven wine I have seen to date. Eden Valley Riesling is tight and fine and holding its card so close to its chest that I have no idea which way it will turn. We picked this wine at optimum flavor with no concern about the alcohol or the acid. As a result, I think we will have a tight, fine, delicate and balanced wine. Eden valley opitimises what I love about the variety but a touch more muscular than its Clare Valley counterparts.
We introduced 3 new varieties this year, Marsanne, which is a grand white variety originally from the south of the Rhone Valley in France (ours was grown in the lovely hamlet of nearby Greenock). The wine is textural and rich and has an oily demeanor but finishes dry and crisp. We also made a Grenache from Greenock and is our greatest pick up to date. 100 Year old Grenache vines and it’s the most savoury textural and complex wine I have had the privilege to work with this year. This was destined to be the backbone to our new GSM Blend, but its just so good that we will also release as a single varietal. Watch out! Lastly the Montipulciano. One of my favorite wines to make……This wine was whole berry tipped to the fermenter and picked early to retain fruit and flavour. I was uncertain if the wine would develop enough tannins to make it a serious wine. Although on day 3 of ferment the wine took up some serious tannins that grew and grew until a wine on steroids was borne. This is going to be the most amazing complex wine of broody black fruits and dark black blocky tannins. A great wine for the big re wranglers out there. I cant tame the beast! Good luck!
So in conclusion vintage 2017 is great – the best wines I’ve seen in a decade. I’ve really enjoyed focusing more on my own wines and being free of the big cooperate shackles and limitations. It great to get back to artisanal, creative and small batch winemaking and I’m already noticing the improvements in our wine as a result. The wines this year will be elegant, balanced and regionally expressive. I think its the vintage the Barossa will show the world that big over-bearing wines are not the norm of our region and balance and finesse is our forte. 2017 will be a vintage that I will remember for many years to come.
26 April 2017