Winter in 2015 was dry and although its rain volume was near normal, there were lots of days that only had 2mm of rain. Spring 2015 was very dry. October and December were hot and November was mild. The warm November days ensured that the vines had set well. The vines produced some of the biggest crops we have seen in recent years, but they weren’t overcropped. We were excited to receive a heavy down pour of rain in late January/early February, as it relieved the strain on the vines. The later picked grapes really benefited from the rain with no negative affect on them at all. The 2016 Vintage started a few days earlier than ever before, on 27 January. That same vineyard was picked on the 30 January 2015 and on the 31 January 2014. Veraison happened slowly, but ripening progressed relatively quickly because of the dry conditions. February was very mild, there were only a few days over 30 degrees and nights were cold. Sugar accumulation happened gradually through that period, however there was no stress on the vines. Parts of March were ideal, we had warm days combined with cool nights, so the concentration grew and the colours were strong. We have picked excellent parcels of whites from the 2016 vintage, they are bright and vibrant with a lovely long acid and elegance. The Earlier picked reds didn’t need to reach high sugar for them to have good fruit characters, they are lively, bright, spicy, vibrant, and elegant. As vintage progressed into March, the weight grew in the wines. The later picked reds don’t display any overripe characters. Towards the end of vintage we have seen some great parcels of grenache, cabernet & shiraz.
The main part of winter in 2014 was wetter than usual which resulted in just reaching filled capacity in the soil. From August to early January it was very dry with above average temperatures. Flowering started the earliest ever and was unusually spread out over a period of five weeks. Most varieties showed low numbers of small bunches, thanks to the 2014 January heatwave, in many cases irrigation was essential. Veraison started at about normal but came on fast with a mini heatwave early January. Throughout January 44mm of rain was collected, double the average, however much of this was in 2-4mm per day with many mild days and relatively cool nights. Harvest started on 30 January, the earliest on record by one day. Considering February and March were very dry, vines with supplementing irrigation held up very well thanks to minimal bursts of heat through this period. Harvest was quite condensed with most vineyards having a perfect window to harvest of 1-2 days. Grapes skins were thick with great acidity in the pulp. All the whites look excellent or better, especially good for Riesling with high acidity levels. The highlight for reds was Shiraz with grapes showing an abundance of spicy fruits with colour, richness balanced tannins and vibrant fruit length. The 2015 vintage was a great year to show the differences of geology and soil largely due to the drier conditions.
The ripening period for the 2014 season was not without challenge, but on the whole it seemed that for every punch nature threw at us there was a counter punch. The extremely dry and windy conditions experienced through spring were softened by the heavy winter rainfalls we had experienced leading up to that period. Similarly the heatwave experienced in January was immediately followed by a deluge in early February. Both of these events in isolation would normally have had major detrimental effects, but as they happened consecutively the rain proved a relief to the suffering vines and as the berries were already starting to shrivel from the heat, the splitting effect that can be cause by heavy downfalls was minimised. The cool weather that followed the rains helped to slow the ripening process, which had rocketed during the hot spell. Picking went on hold for two weeks as the vines gently ticked away at their job, with flavour development catching back up to sugar ripeness. The wines themselves are exceeding expectations, given the difficult nature of the growing season. In summary, a testing vintage to date that has shown off McLaren Vale’s innate ability to truly counter some fairly tough conditions.
Winter rains were normal, while spring, summer and autumn were very dry. Mid summer was mild with many cold nights, which produced great Riesling with the highest acids ever seen. Vintage started slightly early. When the first Shiraz was 12.5 baume, a heat wave came through which made them ripen fast and the winery was filled in about one week. A cool week helped the next grapes to regain normal ripening. Then another mini heat wave occurred which caused a jump in sugar and the winery was filled again. No stress was seen on the vines, however the window of ripening was often quite narrow (a few days). Some shrivel crept into a few blocks. As a whole, sugar levels for reds were up with flavour weight variable. All reds are black and tannic, and are looking like great wines. It was a very condensed season, all whites look really good, including fruit from the Adelaide Hills. The Adelaide Hills Pinots look very expressive and substantial. Yields were down a bit due to the very dry spring and summer, however not down as much as some other regions. Stand outs are seen across all varieties, with quite some variability in styles. Overall quality is high, with lesser blocks performing well. 2013 compares very well with 2012, both vintages produced many great wines that are black and well structured.
A wet late summer followed by a wet winter in 2011 set the vines up perfectly for the 2012 vintage. However, spring and summer were considerably drier than normal. These conditions, coupled with a fairly constant wind howling for both seasons, has resulted in the fruit set being lower than normal. A small heat burst just prior to veraison assured a solid colour change, small berries and told the vine to start lignification. A small amount of rain and considerably cooler weather in early February slightly enlarged the berries and reduced the stress of the vines, keeping fruit character and acidity. Another mini heatwave reduced berry size, however thanks to the previous rain shower no stress was observed and ripening progressed well. Relatively mild conditions prevailed for the rest of harvest with a couple of bursts of rain, these were associated with strong winds so no disease was able to set in. Crop levels were largely down by 30-50%. The whites are beautifully expressive with lovely flavours, balance, and length and with no coarseness or broadness. Reds are black, solid and quite structured, the biggest year for some time; not oily but definitely gutsy. All red varieties performed fantastically.
There was ample winter and spring rain which provided good sub soil moisture and resulted in healthy canopies and good vigour. Summer conditions were very mild with vintage starting on 24 February, only a few days shy of the latest start on record. Disease pressure was high due to multiple periods of rain throughout the ripening period. The early ripening areas to the southwest were the least affected while the later ripening areas to the northeast were most affected. The minimal input viticulture practices a d’Arenberg dealt with this challenge well. With no fertilization grape skins are thicker and cope better with common moisture related issues such as Botrytis Cinerea. It was definitely a year for diligence with many vineyards requiring stringent bunch and berry selection. The late start to vintage and cool to cold conditions throughout also meant a long harvest. Some parcels were picked in late April and Botrytis whites bound for dessert wines were still coming across the weigh bridge in mid May. The white varieties from McLaren Vale and some parts of Adelaide Hills are fantastic, showing lots of minerality and great acid. Of the red grapes, the thicker skinned varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Sagrantino fared the best with some parcels showing strong pepper and fennel characters. Some great Grenache resulted, although there was variability and some high yielding wines showing soft fruity characters with ample ripeness. Those with nerve achieved reds rich, strongly fruited with very stylish fruity tannins and the best acidity seen for years. Overall many outstanding wines across all varieties.
Good winter rains ensured adequate sub soil moisture and set vines up well with healthy canopies. There was unseasonably hot weather during flowering, but this did not affect fruit setting to any significant extent, and vigour was beautifully balanced. There was some more heat early in the season, but with berries only just forming it was not an issue. The rest of the season was mild with nights mild to cool with very little rain. It was another early start to vintage which started with McLaren Vale Riesling on the third of February. Both red and whites from 2010 have strong varietal characters and good balance.