Vintage Report 2015, by Mike Garland
2 June 2015 by Alyce Thompson
It’s been a really strange vintage.
Windy and wet conditions during fruit set (Oct/Nov) have caused widespread lowering of crop levels uniformly across the district, in particular the early ripening varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Overall crops are much lower than usual – the upside is that low crops are a good indicator of intense flavoured fruit.
With these low crops and excellent ripening weather over verasion (Jan/Feb) we saw an early start to vintage (the earliest we’ve seen in 20 years in the Great Southern) – our first intake was on 4th Feb which is the earliest by 10 days or so.
It’s been quite frantic, like a usual vintage, and then, as often happens, 40-50mm of rain. The start of cold nights has basically ground vintage to a halt, as the vines take up some much needed rain and the sugar accumulation ceases. This gives us a good chance in the winery to ensure that all the whites receive some TLC, to make sure ferments are happy and that all the barrel ferments are progressing nicely – not to mention a day off, which is always welcome in the middle of vintage. Most of the red grapes are sitting in the mid 13 baume range, holding good acid and just starting to get those rich, ripe characters coming into the fruit.
Early standouts are the barrel ferment Chardonnay, Fume Blanc and, of course, Riesling – which always looks great and this year will be a blend of 4 different sites, all bringing something different to the table.
The low cropping continued with the red varieties, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon which showed approx 50% lower than usual cropping levels. 2015 saw very mild conditions to finish vintage off, which is quite useful as it ensures that the reds have time to gain physiological ripeness before the sugar accumulation gets excessively high.
Great Southern Shiraz (surprise surprise!) was the standout, with lovely depth and richness from Frankland River and intense spiciness from Mount Barker. Again our Frankland River Cabernet shows amazing vineyard consistency and purity of fruit (shame the crop was so low).
With the mildness of weather and intermittent rain unfortunately some of the softer skinned reds, like Merlot just didn’t quite make it. Those that did make it in before the rain showed lovely varietal intensity and balance. Last fruit was pressed out Monday(Frankland Cabernet) making a record length of vintage, 4th Feb to 18th May.
Time to clean up and go on holiday – but wait – we better get some bottling done first.