2017 will be known as a very late vintage with an unusually long growing season delaying vintage by nearly a month. In the southern Adelaide Hills, many of us who had staved off disease and kept our canopies healthy chewed nervously on our fruit and glanced hopefully at our weekly analysis with itchy trigger fingers poised to get bird nets off and rip into harvest. A burst of warm weather in early April provided great relief to us and our neighbours as beaumes (sugars) strolled into the low to mid- teens. One last visit to our winemaker Phil Christiansen con rmed what we all suspected, a perfect balance of sugars and acids, fruit poised to make wine with amazing flavour without the usual belting of alcohol we’ve all become accustomed to... time to pick.
Enter the weather. With ‘substantial’ rain forecast by Bureau of Meteorology later in the week, commencing Easter Monday, we were suddenly moving with purpose, nets off Tuesday and in the early hours of Wednesday morning picking began in earnest. In the course of the morning, clouds began to mass like some terrifying sci- movie but by the time rain actually started falling our fruit had been whisked away and had started its journey to becoming wine. As it turns out ‘substantial’ turned out to be less than 5mm but as a producer you simply can’t keep rolling the dice and as it turned out Phil couldn’t be happier with the fruit. Later that week a quick visit to the winery confirmed my greatest hopes as I threaded my way through fermenting wafts of Christmas cake and blueberries... there’s plenty of flavour on the way.
Whilst my journey as a producer has been short to date I have a more heightened awareness
of what it takes to make great wine and I can say without hesitation it truly starts in the vineyard... attention to detail, timing, care, experience and yes, a little luck. As the official vintage reports roll in you’ll hear more of the same but having spoken to many of my peers in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales we are all in agreement that the fruit we’ve ended up with is of the highest quality with slightly higher stress levels than we’d like.
After waxing lyrical about 2016 some of these reds will start appearing soon, including my own from this very vineyard.
Originally published in Doctor Q, May 2017