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Vintage 2014 Red Update

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  • Vintage 2014 Red Update

    The 2014 vintage is proving to be unique in its own special way, similar to but not quite the same as some years of the past and very different to just as many others. So far it has thrown up challenges on many fronts for the viticulturists and winemakers at Wolf Blass, but these are challenges we all relish. Any vintage that has a cool and windy flowering period and record-breaking heat waves broken by a record rain event with a long cool spell to follow is definitely going to deliver wines with their own special personality.

    Highlighting some of the vintage influences of major Wolf Blass premium red regions:

    Barossa vineyards were set up very well leading into the growing season. An early budburst then a cool spell during flowering and fruit-set caused some variation in fruit across many vineyards that will test the skill and patience of all winemakers at picking time.
    The following extreme heat conditions that buffeted most of southern Australia for over a month should have been disastrous in the vineyard but remarkably the vines were not fazed that much at all. The hottest summer on record in Adelaide appeared to be laughed off by the tough Barossa vines that somehow seemed to build resilience, looking remarkably fresher with each impending 40+ degree day.
    Then an almost unprecedented heat-wave-breaking rain event, delivering around 100mm or more in a few short days, stopped everyone in their tracks. Winemakers watched the rain fall on the parched earth, filling the soil profile like it was mid-winter, expecting to be greeted by splitting grapes, spilling their juice to the ground and welcoming vintage-ending disease.
    But once again the amazingly resilient 2014 vintage fruit (and not just from the Barossa) has defied all the odds. Split was minimal with little loss or disease pressure, the vintage has simply stalled to almost a stop as we wait for the soil to dry out and the fruit to re-establish its balance. The slowdown in ripening has allowed the less ripe fruit to catch up and even out across each vineyard.
    The Barossa, Eden and Clare Valleys, as well as the Adelaide Hills, received the highest amount of rain across the state but we are still very confident that the vintage will defy the raw data and produce great red wines, particularly due to the protracted ripening season that history has shown can produce outstanding results.
    McLaren Vale

    McLaren Vale's deep, rich soils and maritime-influenced climate buffered the weather extremes more-so than the continental regions, meaning early season conditions were ideal for full healthy canopy growth. The unprecedented heat spell seemed to affect the vineyard workers (and everyone else) more than the vines themselves, with the cool and windy prolonged flowering conditions prior to the heat causing more of a challenge. The soaking rain event has delayed picking considerably while we wait for the vineyards to dry out, but with fruit now arriving in the winery again, we are confident of high quality from 'The Vale' once again, Shiraz in particular.
    Langhorne Creek

    Langhorne Creek managed to dodge the full extent of the summer heat waves with generally lower temperature peaks than the more northerly regions. The growing season leading into the summer heat ensured that most vineyards were set up well to guard against the warmer conditions. Fruit-set was also shorter and therefore more even than some other regions have experienced. The heat-breaking deluge also managed to be less severe, with 'The Creek' only receiving 20-40 mm of rain. The cool conditions that have followed have meant ripening has slowed considerably, ensuring plenty of time for flavour development and a promise of intense, complex Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec fruit into the winery during the second half of March.

    Coonawarra and the greater Limestone Coast started much slower than other premium regions and although heat-waves did arrive they were certainly much less severe than in regions further north. The major rain event across South Australia had no real influence outside of ensuring that ripening will be very long and slow. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon in particular is ripening 3 weeks behind the 2013 rate.

    All the winemakers here are very excited about the vintage we are embarking on, not just because we will experience another unique year with its own personality but we are also certain that the wines produced will stand for the Wolf Blass hallmarks of quality, character and consistency.