Vintage 2017 Update
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.