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Vintage Report 2018, by Andrew Milbourne

Winemakers in the vineyard

It is not quite over yet, but 2019 has been a real roller coaster of a vintage with freak weather events, lower than expected crops and plagues of animals.
Winter rains over the Great Southern were steady and provided the vines with good soil moisture which allowed the vine to power on into a dry and mild spring. Frost hit some low lying vineyards in the Frankland River wine growing area hard destroying crops and reducing yields.
The weather during the grape ripening into early vintage was more mild than average, with notably colder nights. In conjunction with a dry January and February, this led to prolonged accumulation of sugar. With the onset of sporadic rain events in March, the risk of fungal diseases grew alarmingly Close attention in the vineyards were needed to keep the vines happy.
The first grapes harvested were Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling wine. What a cracker of a year for sparkling it will be! With the cooler ripening allowing great flavours to develop in conjunction with fabulous acid. This also goes double for the Denmark Chardonnay selected for our first of four picks for the Il Liris Chardonnay that was whole bunch pressed lovingly straight into waiting fine French oak barrels. The Il Liris is made up of four separate picks of Denmark Chardonnay. The first pick has fine juicy acidity and lemon curd. The next two picks are still zingy, but with stone fruits such as nectarine. The last pick is slightly riper and verges on peach characters. All batches are whole bunch pressed to oak where they ferment and live until the end of the year when they are selected and blended into the final delicious wine.
The grapes to be picked next were Riesling, the empress of grape varieties. Here the better vineyards delivered piercingly pure fruit and mouth-watering acidity. Unfortunately, the lesser vineyards were put under stress by the rain and some batches required to be picked before they were fully ripe to avoid being lost altogether. Frankland River Riesling fared better with more plush fruit characters in the mid-palate. Some judicious blending will provide the Sum Riesling with a balanced and enjoyable drinking experience.