Heading into Vintage 23

The growing season.

Across the Great Southern of WA, we saw a cold and long winter in 2022, and a very cool spring with regular rainfall up until mid-November. Only at the start of January 2023 did we really see some warmer days come through in runs of warm days then cool and cold nights. These patterns were fantastic for our cool climate varieties.

The onset of ripening has been tracking similarly to the 2021 and 2022 seasons. On average, these were two to three weeks later than we had seen in the warmer 2018 and 2020 seasons.

Fruit across the subregions.

Across the 5 subregions of the Great Southern (Albany, Porongurup, Mt Barker, Frankland River and of course our home grounds Denmark) the vintage conditions were mild and exceptional with a relatively even flowering due to the stable weather patterns.

​​Each of the sub-regions of the Great Southern are unique and the 2023 season is certainly highlighting the climatic differences of each.

Crops levels across the sub-regions for the 2023 vintage seem to be modest. We are seeing lower overall bunch counts than 2022 and smaller berry sizes due to the drier conditions from November. In saying that, the sites are developing quite intensely flavoured berries and retaining natural acidity. These growing conditions have allowed berries across the board to hold onto their freshness, and our red varieties to build peak colour from long days of sunlight without the intense heat we saw in previous seasons like 2018 and 2020.

2023 vintage varietal highlights 

At the Castelli Estate Denmark vineyard ​​Chardonnay and Pinot Noir look to be the highlights. Our proximity to the Southern Ocean fosters early budburst compared to the other sub-regions. The long and even growing season we see in Denmark means these varieties will probably be the last blocks of these varieties to be harvested. 

Down in Albany Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay look to be the heroes of the season. Albany tends to be a little warmer than Denmark during the day due the predominant easterly breezes dragging warm air from the Southeast land division, and the Southern Ocean moderating the heat in the morning and evening. These slightly warmer conditions can intensify the fruit ripening producing a more aromatic berry for us. 

Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from Frankland River look to be exceptional, with consistently warmer daytime temperatures and cloud free days and cold overnight temperatures from southern ocean sea breezes.

Aromatic whites will be the winners out of Mt Barker this year. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (for sparkling). Sitting about halfway between Denmark and Frankland River, the vineyards see cooler overnight temperatures than Frankland River, but warmer days than Albany and Denmark. The results are particularly evident in our Riesling; beautiful minerality, fruit purity and clarity, linear acidity, lemon notes and understated florals. 

Year and year again, the Porongurup subregion has proven such a reliable home for Riesling and Pinot Noir. Similar to Albany, the sites enjoy warmer daytime temperatures due the prevailing easterly breeze. But, the elevation and aspect of the area moderates the temperature resulting in higher naturally retained acidity and seductive floral development in Rieslings, and intensely coloured, concentrated and crunchy Pinot Noirs.

Across the board we are expecting an exceptional vintage for 2023. We’re looking forward to finishing our harvest and getting all the fruit into the winery for processing.