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Vintage 2017 is almost complete for Australia’s Deakin Estate, Murray Darling and Katnook Estate, Coonawarra. Throughout Australia, harvest was generally later than usual and at this early stage, quality is looking exceptional for both Deakin and Katnook according to winemakers.
Deakin Estate’s winemaker, Frank Newman reports, “We finished harvest just after Easter by picking Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec – this is exceptionally late compared to the last few years. The warm harvest period in 2016 increased the fruitfulness of the vines and delaying maturity in 2017. Combined with a relatively cool spring and summer, fruit development has been held back meaning an extended ripening period.
This season’s wines are showing more elegance than the “big” wines of last year. Colours in the red are looking good as are the aromas and flavours. The body of these wines will be more refined than 2016. This will also be the case for our white wines, which are showing less tropical aromas and flavours than normal and more flora fragrant bouquets.
This will mean that our oaked wine styles will have less time in oak this year, so that fruit characters can be highlighted. Non oaked whites like Sauvignon Blanc are showing characteristic floral aromas with light delicate palate weight structures. Again one of the shining lights will be Viognier, aromatic and flavoursome with a little texture on the palate – it is one of the wines we enjoy making the most. It has indeed been a terrific vintage.”
Katnook is located some 500 kilometres south of Deakin Estate in the cooler Coonawarra district. Katnook winemaker, Wayne Stehbens is happy with the 2017 season. He says, “The season to date has been cooler and wetter than last year, reminiscent of vintages 10-15 years ago. We commenced harvest on the 2nd March 2017 two weeks later than last year by picking Pinot Meuniere, Pinot Noir (both for sparkling base) and Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit was in excellent condition, with high natural acidity and great flavours at low sugar levels. This was followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay in mid-March. Fruit flavours and natural acid balance are pleasing across our white wines.
The weather by early April was drier and slightly warmer than average, which was ideal for harvest of our Merlot, Shiraz and later, Cabernet Sauvignon. Picking should conclude in early May and initial assessments show that our red wines will be exceptionally elegant with rich flavours and gentle tannins.”
Katnook Coonawarra is one the few wineries with three or more listings in the Langton’s Classification of Australian wine. This month, Katnook releases its flagship wines, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon and Prodigy Shiraz from the outstanding 2012 vintage as well as Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. Under the Langton’s Classification IV, Odyssey is rated ‘Outstanding’ while Prodigy and Katnook Estate Cabernet sit in the ‘ Excellent’ category.
Katnook Winemaker Wayne Stehbens says the 2012 Coonawarra vintage, “is now considered to be one of the finest for Coonawarra. It was a very early, warm, dry, low yielding vintage which led to intense fruit aromas, great depth of flavours and fine tannins for both Odyssey Cabernet and Prodigy Shiraz.”
Katnook Prodigy Shiraz 2012. RRP $100.
Prodigy is one of 65 wines listed in the ‘Excellent’ category of the Langton’s VI, Classification of Australian Wine.
The first Prodigy vintage was in 1997 from young vines and won the Jimmy Watson trophy, Melbourne Wine Show 1998. The 2012 is the 13th release.
Prodigy is crafted from small parcels of grapes harvested from sites that have consistently produced fruit of outstanding depth of fruit flavour, excellent colour and firm tannin structure.
James Halliday rated this wine 96 points saying, " Prodigy marches to the tune of its own drum, and practice has long since made perfect. Despite all the winemaking and time spent in oak, it has retained balance, emerging at the end of the process as elegant, the tannins supple, the wine fresh.” (Australian Wine Companion 2017).
Grape Variety 100% Shiraz
Region 100% Coonawarra
Harvested 20th – 22nd March 2012
Analyses pH 3.39, Acidity 6.1g/L, Alc/vol. 14.5%
Cellaring Potential 10 to 15 years
Oak maturation 25 months in 225L barriques in new and 2 year old French, as well as new American oak.
Andrew Caillard MW reviewed the Prodigy Shiraz style at www.langtons.com.au as follows:
Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz, first made in 1997 by senior winemaker Wayne Stehbens, comprises select parcels of the best fruit from the estate’s 26 hectares of mature Shiraz vineyards. The vines, established in the mid-1990s and planted at 1.5 metre intervals in rows two metres apart, are anchored in classic terra rossa soils over limestone and transitional dark clays. Low crop yields are achieved by precise canopy management, hand-pruning, bunch-thinning and shoot-removal. Organic principles are increasingly followed. The wine is small-batch vinified in open fermenters, basket-pressed and then matured in new (up to 100%) French and American oak barriques for 24 - 28 months. Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz typically shows intense raspberry and plum aromas, generous, pure-fruit flavours and underlying liquorice spice with finely-grained tannins and plenty of flavour length.
Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. RRP $100.
Odyssey is one of 52 wines listed in the ‘Outstanding’ category of the Langton’s VI, Classification of Australian Wine.
First vintage was in 1991. Accolades include the Frescobaldi Trophy and Best Australian Red at the 2003 International Wine and Spirit Competition for the 1998 vintage.
Rated 95 points by James Halliday, who described it as “Hyper-intense, full-bodied cabernet varietal fruit is beyond the normal Odyssey style, but none the worse (indeed better) for that; blackcurrant and bay leaf, plus notes of tar, race along the palate, barely checking their momentum on the finish and aftertaste. Drink by 2037.” (Australian Wine Companion 2017).
Grape Variety 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Region 100% Coonawarra
Harvested 8th – 13th April 2012
Analyses pH 3.4, Acidity 6.99g/L, Alc/vol. 14.5%
Cellaring Potential 15 to 18 years
Oak maturation 13 months in 50% French (10% new) and 50% older American oak barriques
Andrew Caillard MW reviewed the Odyssey style at www.langtons.com.au as follows:
The concentrated and powerful Odyssey is selected from the most outstanding parcels of intense Cabernet fruit from specific vineyard rows planted on rich, clay, terra rossa loams over a thick, hard layer of limestone. After vinification in small-batch fermenters, maturation takes place over 30 to 40 months in a combination of new French and American barriques. Some parcels are ‘double-oaked’ to increase flavour complexity. The maturation regime is intuitive to the character of the vintage. Stehbens describes the overall style as ‘a wine with ripe, rich fruit combined with complex oak and barrel-matured flavours’. This highly-prized Coonawarra wine is a benchmark style with beautifully intense, pure, blackcurrant aromas, mocha oak complexity, superb volume and dense, chocolaty tannins. The Odyssey verges on the ‘essence-of-Coonawarra’ style yet manages to achieve remarkable balance and minerality.”
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. RRP $40.
Stehbens describes the 2013 vintage as “One of the earliest starts and finishes on record - slightly warmer than normal, very dry but without the extreme heat experienced in many other parts of Australia. From a grape ripening view point that was ideal. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were the stars.”
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is one of 65 wines listed in the ‘Excellent’ category of the Langton’s VI, Classification of Australian Wine.
Winner of 4 silver medals at leading international wine competitions.
Sarah Ahmed, Decanter Magazine (UK), September 2016 gave this wine 93 points, describing it as ‘Heady with a rich burnish of charry, spicy oak to its cassis and juicier mulberry and blackberry. Long, with ripe but textural gravelly tannins. Drink: 2016-2028.’
Andrew Caillard MW reviewed this wine style at www.langtons.com.au as follows:
‘The wine is matured in new (30-40%) and seasoned French oak for 22 to 24 months. Varietal definition and regional expression are captured through meticulous selection of vineyard components, instinctive use of oak maturation and skilful blending. The wine typically shows intense blackcurrant and mulberry aromas, generous pure-fruit flavours, finely-grained tannins, underlying mocha notes, plenty of flavour length and great aging potential.’
Availability. Selected Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Cellars Australia wide stock Odyssey, Prodigy and Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Distribution. Australian distributors for Katnook wines are:
NSW, VIC, QLD Fesq and Co. Tel. 1300 763 377.
SA Muster Wine Co. Tel. 0430 360 650.
WA Off the Vine. Tel. 08 9418 8210.
Vintage 2017 is off to a late start for Wingara's two wineries. Here is the latest from our winemakers and viticulturists.
VINTAGE UPDATE, 6th March 2017
Katnook Coonawarra, SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Viticulturist, Chris Brodie. The season to date has been cooler and wetter than last year, reminiscent of vintages 10-15 years ago. Compared to last vintage we are also much later, therefore the acid balance should be excellent in the final wines. There have been no significant impediments such as prolonged heatwaves, rain, frost etc. So, looking forward to some terrific fruit quality.
Winemaker, Wayne Stehbens. Compared to recent vintage starts, Katnook is around 2 weeks later than usual. We commenced harvest on the 2nd March 2017 by picking Pinot Meuniere, Pinot Noir (both for sparkling base) and Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit was in excellent condition, with high natural acidity and great flavours at low sugar levels. This week we will finish Sauvignon Blanc and make a start on the Riesling, followed by Chardonnay in mid-March.
I expect the harvest for red grapes will start late March.
The long-term weather forecasts are for drier than average temperatures being only slightly above average. Unless this forecast changes dramatically, my expectations are for a very good to excellent vintage.
Mildura VICTORIA. Home to Deakin Estate, La La Land and Azahara.
Viticulturist, Craig Thorton. We experienced cold nights right up to Christmas when the temperatures rose to what we normally expect over Summer followed by cooler weather. Harvest therefore has been slow to progress. Typically, we would have picked all the sparkling and much of the Sauvignon Blanc by now. So, we are 4 weeks behind normal. As a guide to a general start date we have in most years started picking by 20th January and experience ripe harvestable fruit by just after Christmas. We are seeing good healthy full bunch crops, with great fruit freshness considering the late pick date. We have harvested much of the base varieties required for Sparkling and some early ripening Pinot Gris.
Weather is starting to become cold overnight as expected for this time of the year. We had a very hot week in mid-February with 5 days over 40 degrees C. We have another hot week in this the first week of March, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees C, which will help with fruit ripening. Tempranillo and other varieties are looking great.
Winemaker, Frank Newman. Harvest is proceeding at a snail’s pace. We have crushed barely 2000 tonne which is something like 5 weeks behind last year. A cooler, wetter spring has slowed ripening to a marked degree and, as with Coonawarra, this season seems more like those experienced 10-15 years ago. Slow ripening augers well for quality but it is too early to make a call on the final rating of vintage quality.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling base are harvested as is around 20% of the total Sauvignon Blanc harvest. The sparkling bases are showing refined flavours with a crisp palate that we want for our sparkling wines. It should be borne in mind that these bases will be spread over 7 consecutive years of sparkling so that we maintain our “solera” integrity (our sparkling wines are always non-vintage because we want them to have youthful freshness but also depth of character from careful ageing of the base wines) The first parcel of Sauvignon Blanc has captured the green/grassy notes that will form the backbone to the final wine. The next intake of this variety will supply the floral and fruity elements that characterize our style.
We have harvested our Pinot Gris at two different maturity levels to develop the styles that we sell - early picked for Pinot Grigio and the riper intake for Pinot Gris. Both have been allowed to begin ferment spontaneously with indigenous yeast for that extra little complexity on the nose, however fermentation will be complete with a selected strain of yeast that provides mouthfeel and weight.
Within a week of this report, Chardonnay for still table wine should have been harvested. If the Chardonnay that we have processed for our private clients is any indication they should be absolute crackers.
I predict this first week of March will see more suitable harvest opportunities, since we are looking at a prolonged period of temperatures - ideal for fruit ripening. There is a chance that some isolated parcels of red will be picked before mid-March.
Wingara's premium brand, Katnook Coonawarra, is running an ongoing social media competition, designed to reward loyal customers who "Share the Love". Every 2 months, the most creative post featuring Katnook wine, cellar door or events will win a wine pack.
The competition is as easy as 1.2.3.
See here for terms and conditions.
FIRST WINNER was selected in November 2016. We congratulated Wilma Brbot on this beautiful image.
The Wingara Wine Group presents three sparkling wines from its portfolio in the lead up to the Festive Season and Australian summer holidays. Owned by the world’s largest producer of traditional method sparkling wines, Freixenet Spain, the Wingara Wine Group distributes a diverse range of sparkling wine styles across most price points.
These sparkling wines are made by our Australian winemaker, Wayne Stehbens of Katnook Coonawarra – as well as Spanish winemaker Gabriel Suberviola of Segura Viudas, Penedes. All three wines are currently available Australia wide in selected retail stores.
Katnook Founder’s Block Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV. RRP $23
Sourced entirely from Katnook’s Coonawarra vineyards, the base wine is 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir blend which is partially matured in older oak to add complexity. The wine undergoes the Charmat process. The wine shows sweet pear, quince and caramel flavours, accompanied by a fine mousse and crisp acid finish.
Total Acidity 6.7 g/l
Dosage 10 g/l
SEGURA VIUDAS is located near Torrelavit in the Penedes region, just outside Barcelona, Spain. By definition, Cava must be made using methode traditionelle – the same exacting method that is used to make Champagne.
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. RRP $15
Fruitiness, freshness and complexity are the three defining characteristics of this wine, which aims to offer exceptional value. The base wine is a blend of 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada and 15% Xarel-lo. After primary fermentation, the wine is held on yeast lees for 3 months to allow nutty yeast autolysis flavours to permeate. By law, reserva cavas such as this wine, must be in contact with yeast lees for a minimum of 15 months.
Total Acidity 3.95g/l
Dosage 9 g/l
Ageing on less Minimum 15 months.
Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad D.O. Cava. RRP $50
This wine represents the pinnacle of Segura Viudas’ wine styles, with the focus on elegance. Comprising 67% Macabeo and 33% Parellada, only the first 50% of juice pressed is fermented. The final blend is made up of 9 different wines and all riddling is done by hand.
This special occasion wine is presented in a pewter clad bottle, the design of which is based on an 11th century original. Empty bottles are used as water or salad dressing bottles – or as vases and candle holders, making the wine a popular gift.
Total Acidity 4g/l
Ageing on less Minimum 30 months.