Vintage Report for 2019
Vintage 2019 is over for another year. Here our vineyard and winery teams report on the season.
Chris Brodie - Senior Viticulturist, Katnook Coonawarra. South Australia.
This year was later than recent vintages and was more like the seasons we experienced in the 2000’s. Rainfall up to mid-December meant very little irrigation was needed on established vines.
The heatwave in late January was well forecast, so thankfully we were able to manage harvest accordingly.
Largely due to a light frost in November and unseasonal weather during flowering, crop loads were below average and 20% lower than 2018. We enjoyed a very good quality growing season, with our vines replanted in 2015 and 2016 doing well.
The whites showed good natural acidity and complex flavours at harvest. The reds had good, deep colours and great varietal characters.
Overall, 2019 has been a pleasing season and working with the new winery team went very smoothly indeed.
Tim Heath - Winemaker, Katnook Coonawarra. South Australia.
My first full vintage at Katnook was an exciting one, working closely with the vineyard team to maximise fruit potential across all varieties. Our wines certainly benefit from state of the art equipment, such as the stainless steel basket press. Some winemaking initiatives this vintage included:
- Wild yeast fermentation on some White and Red batches;
- Gravity feeding red fruit directly to fermenters to assist in production of lifted aromatics through some Carbonic Maceration and finer management of tannin profile through less front-end maceration;
- Extended post ferment maceration on some Shiraz and Cabernet parcels;
- Inclusion of whole bunch in some Shiraz ferments;
- Use of high-quality French oak across all red varieties and chardonnay –to produce wines with greater oak balance, integration and complexity.
At this early stage, here is how each wine is shaping up so far.
Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir – elegant base wines thanks to focussing on front end handling to decrease phenolic pick up, including modification of press programs to Cremant cycles (Champagne press cycles).
Sauvignon Blanc – good acid balance. Should produce elegant wines with solid varietal character
Chardonnay – picked earlier than previous years to capture a fresher more citrus driven flavour profile. Looking strong.
Shiraz – fresh, elegant wines that showcase a “cooler climate” aroma and flavour profile.
Cabernet Sauvignon - lifted, fragrant cabernets produced from what should turn out to be a strong vintage.
Overall, I am anticipating some very strong 2019 wines in the bottle.
Craig Thornton – Viticulturist, Deakin Estate. Murray Darling Victoria.
Just like 2018, the conditions leading up to and during the 2019 vintage were very dry and hot. We only had 23 mm of spring rainfall and 50mm of summer rainfall in mid-December, so we really relied on irrigation additions all season. Overall, fruit quality was in excellent condition and yields were closer to average, whereas last year’s yields were high.
The 2019 harvest started really well, picking ripe white varieties at their optimum in late January. Some early reds were also harvested in optimal conditions before a break of approximately 10 days when there was a lull in fruit maturity. This was followed by a period of rapid maturity of all reds and remaining white varieties. We harvested 2 500 tonnes or approximately 60% of our total intake over three super busy weeks.
We spent a considerable amount of time thinning the Malbec yield, as this variety has high yield potential. This was successful, and we have gained some strategies for yield control in following season. We are seeing terrific flavours across the board and excellent colour in the reds and I would call the vintage a very good season.
Frank Newman - Winemaker Deakin Estate, La La Land, Azahara. Murray Darlin Victoria.
The 2018 Winter/Spring rainfall was meagre, with only small infrequent falls of rain between September and December. A significant fall in November coincided with fruit set which I believe, reduced the 2019 crop levels. Across our region, crop levels were down 13% on 2018 and down nearly 15% for the 5-year average.
Harvest started and finished early, largely due to three hot spells came along in late January, mid-February and early March. Well managed irrigation ensured that the vines did not suffer too much and that quality was maintained. These temperature events lead to irregular ripening patterns, which made harvesting a stop-go process. As cooler weather arrived, ripening resumed returned to normal, placing pressure on the winery to cope with successive days of high crush tonnages.
Standout varieties quality wise this year are Chardonnay, Malbec, Tempranillo, Viognier and Pinot Gris. The white varieties tended to express complex, rich palates. Red varieties show excellent depth of colour with soft persistent tannins that will hold up well in the final wines.
I consider the quality rating for 2019 to be good to excellent given that the vintage required more winemaker intervention than normal.