“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional” – Hunter S. Thompson. The season of weird got underway with a Spring devoid of frosts, the first for many years. Having finally installed a wind machine in the Home Block last year the frost gods had the last laugh as it sat idle, mocking our $50K extravagance. Ah well, there’s nothing surer than that we will need it in the future.
A strong La Nina phase of the Southern Oscillation Index was the dominant feature of the growing season. La Nina years are typically less windy, warmer, more humid with increased risk of late season rain, and so it proved to be. I have looked back at the daily temperature numbers and what is clear is that while daily maximum temperatures were slightly higher than average, it was exceptionally high minimum temperatures (warmer nights) that elevated the seasonal degree days figure. These warmer night temperatures are consistent with La Nina years which do tend to see warmer, humid air from the sub-tropics drawn further south.
So, we experienced a warm, dry, yet humid season with above average March-April rainfall. The effect of this in the vineyard was average to above-average crops, an earlier-ripening season but an extended harvest period as we worked around rain during harvest. As the grapes were healthy leading in to harvest, and rainfall was intermittent over that time, botrytis was only a minor issue with small losses of grapes selected out at picking. Optimal flavours arrived at lower sugar levels this year but, somewhat surprisingly, acid and ph were ideal and seemingly unaffected by the warmer nights which typically reduce harvest acid levels, all part of the weird theme. Overall wine quality looks likely to be above average; not the exceptional vintage we were anticipating before the late season rain intervened but still plenty to look forward to.
Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:
|Brix||pH||Acidity (g/l)||Yield (t/ha)|