Vintage Report 2018, by Mike Garland
25 May 2018 by Alyce Thompson
As the winery is filled with intense aromas of rich blackcurrant, whilst pressing off our best Cabernet block, it’s time to reflect on yet another cracking vintage in the Great Southern.
I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché or marketing spin but the 2018 vintage really was one of the best we’ve ever seen – with some tricky times over the past couple of vintages (albeit good results) it was pleasing to see a ‘perfect’ season unfold.
With steady rainfall over the July – September period (460mm), allowing adequate soil moisture, the vines got off to a good start with ample spring growth providing a strong, balanced canopy for the warmer months. Crop levels across the board were at optimum levels, much lower than 2017, reducing the need for dropping of fruit to achieve adequate ripeness. A very dry, mild October and November meant for excellent conditions over flowering – very even and consistent. With this dry period causing some concern amongst Vignerons it was almost as is the rain-gods were listening. A healthy drop of rain (50mm) during December allowed the canopies to be working at full capacity and build some resilience for the summer months ahead. The summer temperatures were mild (averaging 21-23°C) and sunny, absolutely perfect for cool climate viticulture. Slow, even fruit development with great acid retention.
Vintage started on the 15th February with the intake of all our sparkling varieties (Chardonnay and Pinot), closely followed a week later with the influx of Riesling. Acid retention and crisp ripe flavours were underlying features of this year’s Riesling fruit; with virtually no disease or bird pressure picking was based purely on flavour development. Early March saw the harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot for table wine and as with the Riesling harvest we were able to pick all at optimal condition and ripeness; we were lucky to secure some excellent Porongurup Riesling and Pinot this year – so something to look out for.
I think you will get the gist of vintage this year – with the various varieties all behaving and ripening as they should we were able maintain some degree of order this year (which is very unusual at vintage!). As if almost on queue – once the Chardonnay and Pinots had been safely picked and fermented it simply cruised on to the picking of Shiraz at the end of March and then just as we pressed out the Shiraz, it was time for Cabernet to come in. 2018 will be a simply stunning year for reds. The balance of ripeness, tannins, colour, acidity and of course flavour is truly amazing and it will be great to see how these develop. Lots of interesting stuff out there, like some bush vine Tempranillo and Rhone clone Shiraz (470&174), but it will be the usual big-guns of Acacia Shiraz and Riversdale Cabernet (and Shiraz) that will no doubt be the pick of the bunch.
It was also pleasing to see the quality of the Chardonnay and Pinot off the home block this year and seeing what this site has to offer – the Chardonnay in particular was stunning (Il Liris ’18 looking great).
Anyway, only 3 more press loads to go – then maybe time for a beer (or two) and reflect on another stunning vintage.