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Vintage 2014 Update

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  • Vintage 2014 Update

    There is always a great air of excitement and anticipation when returning from the Christmas holiday break; wondering how many days there will be between that first day back at work and the first receival of grapes for the year. Much of the holiday period has been spent watching the weather patterns as much to predict what will happen with the pace of ripening of the grapes as to see if conditions are good to go fishing.
    This year we were only back for a week before the first grapes were delivered. The 2014 vintage kicked off in a rush with Chardonnay being harvested in the Riverland and Shiraz from the Southern Flinders Ranges.
    Conditions leading into vintage were variable coming off an averagely wet winter into a spring that began with a burst of warmth but then turned cool and dry. The early warmth brought on an early bud burst but the cooler conditions that followed slowed down the vines' progress. These cooler conditions continued through most of December causing an extended flowering period leading to a protracted fruit set. The result has been a larger than normal variation between ripeness of grapes on the same vines and will provide some challenges in getting the timing right for picking.

    The most obvious weather challenge though has been the high temperatures that have blanketed all South Australian growing regions over the past couple of weeks. Although this can take its toll, many growers have set their vineyards with bigger canopies which offer protective shade for the fruit. And the vines are very smart as they shut down to a state of rest in very hot conditions. It has been encouraging to see that the fruit quality is holding out against these challenges.
    Now into our 3rd week of vintage, the early onslaught has subsided and we are starting to see more predictable patterns emerge that will allow us to manage the remainder of the vintage intake. We have almost finished Chardonnay from the Riverland and are starting to take in Chardonnay and Semillon from the southern end of the Barossa Valley. Following close behind is Chardonnay from McLaren Vale as well as Pinot Noir for sparkling wines from the Adelaide Hills.
    The grapes that have been crushed are now fermenting and giving us an insight into the quality that we can expect from the remainder of the vintage. The Chardonnay from the Riverland is showing attractive peach flavours and tropical aromatics perfect for our Red Label Chardonnay.
    We have also received in a good volume of Pinot Noir from the Riverland which is destined for our Yellow Label Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling Brut. Again the quality has been very good with the fruit showing really nice levels of natural acidity which helps to maintain the finer palate expected in quality sparkling wines.
    The early days of Vintage 2014 certainly see us very happy with the quality of the fruit and juice that we have received so far and we are excited by the prospect of what is still to come.