Vintage 2018 Report
Vintage is over for another year and we have some terrific wines from the 2018 harvest. Here is a summary of the season from our grapegrowing and winemaking teams at Deakin Estate and Katnook Coonawarra.
Deakin Estate, Murray Darling, VICTORIA
Deakin Vineyard Manager Craig Thornton summarises the 2018 vintage in Mildura, Victoria, “In the lead up to vintage, Deakin Estate received similar rainfall amounts to recent years for the months of October to December but a drier September was experienced.
Overall, the growing season was a dream, as we managed rain pressures and quality well. Like most of Australia, we experience very hot conditions in January which were managed by constantly monitoring and irrigating vines until the temperature decreased. Grapevine canopies gave just the right amount of shading to assist with ripening.
We kicked off vintage on 23rd January 2018, with a small parcel of Chardonnay for sparkling base, quickly followed by Pinot Noir for sparkling and aromatic whites. The rest of the varieties followed the historic text book, ripening as expected and we picked them accordingly. The vintage remained hot and dry right to the end and the estate had received only 3mm of rain to this point. The conditions for post vintage has not changed, we have had unseasonal weather in April with 4 days of over 35 degrees and still no rain on the horizon.
In all, we harvested just over 10 000 tonnes with the last date of harvest being 5th April. Crops were significantly down on 2017 levels but still slightly above average.
Early observations indicate promising flavour profiles developing in all white varieties, and colour development in the reds varieties is pleasing too.”
Deakin Estate winemakers Frank Newman and Aidan Menzies report from inside winery, “The warm, dry weather which was the hallmark of 2018 season made for good, ripe flavours across the board.
Early signs are that Sauvignon Blanc is shaping up particularly well, with beautiful, fresh grapefruit aromas and some more tropical notes from the later ripening parcels. The final blend is sure to be fantastic.
We sourced some terrific Vermentino, which is showing some pleasing almond flavours as it is on yeast lees at the moment, in order to build on the fruit flavours. Promising early signs!
Our Pinot Rose has excellent salmon pink colour and fresh fruity nose, quite enticing.
In the red departments we have some great early starters with the standouts being Grenache and Tempranillo. Cabernet Sauvignon is looking rich, while Shiraz and Merlot are standing up well too.
The Reds are currently going through malolactic fermentation and will be cleaned up onto oak soon. We will be sourcing French and American oak for the majority of the reds and this is our next big task.
Overall, we had a smaller than average crush and excellent quality, so we are confident of a successful 2018 vintage once these wines are bottled.
Katnook Coonawarra, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Early reports are that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year at Katnook Coonawarra. Harvest began early on February 6th and finished late on April 12th. It was drier and warmer than average, with crops down by about a third, due to a spring frost.
Katnook Coonawarra General Manager of Viticulture, Chris Brodie reports that this early start to vintage was despite late budburst. He says, “The spring leading up to the 2018 vintage at Katnook Coonawarra was wet, providing good soil moisture which gave the vines an excellent start, with very little early season irrigation required.Temperatures were relatively warm which also encouraged good vine growth, especially in newly planted areas.
A significant late frost in early November caused crop losses throughout Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and Padthaway. Katnook’s crop was subsequently down by around 30%, with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at Founder’s Block level most affected. In mid November, we experienced heavy rainfall of around 75mm in one day but thereafter enjoyed warm, clear conditions for the rest of vintage.
In mid-January, most of southern Australia, including Coonawarra had several days of heatwave conditions, which brought forward the first day of vintage by about 3 weeks to February 6th with Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir for sparkling wine. Harvest continued at an even pace and finished with the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon on April 12th.
In summary, the 2018 season was significantly warmer and drier than usual. Grape flavours across all varieties are better than they have ever been, we have some excited winemakers in the region!
Katnook’s Senior Vintage Winemaker, Greg Clayfield with his wealth of winemaking experience, has superbly steered our team though Vintage 2018 and will stay on until our new Senior Winemaker, Tim Heath starts in June.
Greg summarises, “Ideal, even ripening conditions lead to a very controlled harvest and crush schedule, with all varieties picked at optimum maturity. A key factor was the sustained dry season, with neither rainfall nor temperature extremes having any influence.
Flavours are very promising with Riesling and Shiraz the standouts. A significant amount of work was put into smaller scale Shiraz ferments, incorporating hand-picked whole bunches.The subsequent wines will make a significant contribution when the Shiraz blends are finalised.
Cabernet Sauvignon are rich, elegant and distinctly regional. After the very early start in February the last fruit, Cabernet Sauvignon, was picked quite late on April 12th.
The winery is currently pressing the last of the red ferments, racking wines off gross lees, filling off wines into oak, encouraging malo-lactic fermentations and conducting full laboratory analyses on finished wines. A significant contributor to the smooth running of the winery was the input of Jo Ahearn MW in her role as Vintage Winemaker. Jo is a star multi tasker, bringing experience ranging from winemaking in the Barossa Valley to managing a large winery in New South Wales, working in the London Wine Trade through to now operating her own winery and brand in Croatia.
In short, 2018 was a very good Coonawarra vintage here at Katnook.”