2011 Vintage Report – the season of weird

Rainfall (mm)

Season 10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06
October 40 63 70 88 126 67
November 29 53 11 28 61 18
December 25 49 91 74 60 41
January 76 114 7 16 31 24
February 11 17 121 29 10 37
March 85 45 35 39 44 67
April 103 7 37 98 43 61
Totals 369 348 372 372 375 315

 

Growing Degree Days (heat units)

Season 10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06
October 63 86 102 112 113 113
November 165 146 186 176 181 156
December 268 220 247 241 169 280
January 262 266 290 324 274 290
February 254 264 244 255 223 234
March 180 215 163 233 260 171
April 67 141 100 127 108 151
Totals 1259 1338 1332 1396 1328 1395

“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.

Cheers,

Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:

Variety

Brix pH Acidity (g/l) Yield (t/ha)
Chardonnay 22.5 3.3 7.2 8
Pinot Noir 23 3.4 8.5 8
Riesling 21.6 3.1 8 8
Sauvignon Blanc 23 3.2 7.5 10

Roger Parkinson

June 2011

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