Vintage 2017 in the bag
Vintage 2017 is over for another year and looking promising at both Wingara sites.
Katnook Viticulturist Chris Brodie explains, “The cooler conditions resulted in budburst being delayed by up to three weeks, with flowering two weeks later. A warm summer followed, with a welcome spell of hot days in late January. We picked our first grapes on 3 March 2017, being Pinot Meuniere and Pinot Noir for sparkling. This was much later than usual. A cool growing season and above average rain leading into 2017 harvest saw a later start to vintage, typical of ten years ago.
Reg grape harvest started towards the end of March and continued to completion on 2nd May. Coonawarra has not had a vintage starting this late since the outstanding 2004 vintage.
The 2017 vintage saw white grapes with good varietal definition and the reds, even at lower sugar levels than recent vintages had excellent colour and concentrated fruit flavours.
April saw heavy rain towards the end of the month, and this, combined with above average yields, meant that not all fruit in Coonawarra was harvested. There are many parcels of high quality grapes for Katnook wines, with Shiraz a standout variety for 2017."
Mildura Viticulturist Craig Thorton (Deakin Estate, La La Land, Azahara ) says, “Our region experienced cold nights right up until Christmas 2016, when the temperatures rose to what we normally expect over summer, followed by cooler weather. Harvest therefore was slow to progress and at any stage was about four weeks behind normal. Usually we would have started harvest by late January, however this year, it was early February.
We had good healthy full bunch crops, with great fruit freshness considering the late pick date. We began harvest with base varieties required for Sparkling and some early ripening Pinot Gris.
We had a very hot week in mid-February with 5 days over 40 degrees Celsius. We had another hot week in the high 30 degrees Celsius during the first week in March which helped with fruit ripening. Weather then become cold at nights until we finished harvest in March.
I was particularly excited by the quality of Tempranillo, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc in the vineyard. Overall, 2017 was a late but rewarding vintage.”
Mildura winemaker Frank Newman reports, “Harvest proceeded slowly this year. As of the second week of March we had crushed just 2000 tonne - five weeks behind last year. A cooler, wetter spring slowed ripening to a marked degree and, as with Coonawarra, this season seems more like those experienced 10-15 years ago.
Sparkling bases are showing refined flavours with a crisp palate. These bases will be spread over seven 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).
We harvested 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 began fermentation spontaneously with indigenous yeast while finishing with a selected yeast strain to improve mouthfeel.
Vermentino is looking exciting, with a touch of oak to balance the palate. Chardonnay has a hint of malolactic fermentation and an approachable mid weight palate. The reds are showing great colour and flavour intensity.
Overall we harvested around 17% less than 2016, due to harvest conditions. I am upbeat about the final, overall wine quality."
Katnook winemaker, Wayne Stehbens reports, "Overall 2017 was slightly warmer than average, as were yields. Despite some heavy mid-vintage rain, my expectations are for a very good vintage.
Harvest began with Pinot Meuniere, Pinot Noir (for sparkling base) and Sauvignon Blanc. The fruit was in excellent condition, with high natural acidity and great flavours at low sugar levels. Riesling and Chardonnay followed in mid-March. Overall, the whites are showing forward fruit and good acid balance.
Red grapes came in later than usual, starting in late March and finishing 02 May. We chose to leave some fruit on the vines due to the heavy rains in late April, meaning we did not compromise on quality. Cabernet at this early stage is deep in colour with elegant fruit flavours and medium body. Shiraz is exceptional, intense, spicy flavours and good palate structure. "