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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. "
Deakin Estate’s family owned vineyards lie near Mildura in north west Victoria, Australia. Here, the mighty Murray River weaves across the land, bringing life to the region. As one of the world’s longest navigable rivers, the Murray stretches for 2,500 kilometres, bordered by a tapestry of quintessential Australian flora, including magnificent gum trees. For over 40,000 years, this river sustained the region’s traditional owners, the Latje Latje people, whose deep connection to the land centres around the timeless Murray – now central to Deakin Estate’s unique terroir.
Deakin’s new River to Vine labels pay homage to the magnificent Murray and the role it plays in delivering exceptional, estate grown fruit to our winemakers. Deakin Estate enjoys full control over every aspect of production, from proprietary vineyards through to final wines - giving consistency, vintage after vintage. For consumers looking for a wine they can always trust for quality and affordability, these fresh labels, designed by Melbourne’s Beetle Creative, evoke a sense of place.
The Murray River’s irrigation system was set up in 1887 by the Chaffey Brothers. Water availability accelerated agricultural expansion around the Murray Darling region, in which Deakin Estate was established in 1967. Today, Deakin’s viticulturist Craig Thornton is highly regarded for his meticulous irrigation trials in conjunction with research bodies such as the CSIRO, ensuring Deakin is at the forefront of regional viticulture. Craig says, “My approach is to create a balanced vine canopy. Irrigation is our main tool in achieving this, as it is something we can manage each year to complement our warm, dry climate. We create the right vine architecture to manage cropping levels, while capturing the best possible flavours.”
Deakin Estate wines are available Australia wide and in major export markets, as are other leading brands nurtured by the Murray, such as William Downie and Chalmers. One of the world’s leading wine writers, Jancis Robinson MW recently commented that collectively, such operators are “busy proving that good wines can come out of the irrigated inland wine regions that depend for their existence on the lazy Murray River.” (www.jancisrobinson.com/ 28/4/2017).
Australian distributors Red+White. Tel. 1300 763 377. International distributors
Deakin Estate Fast Facts
Location: Red Cliffs near Mildura, Victoria.
Wine Region: Murray Darling, Victoria.
Size: 217 hectares of vineyards and orchards.
Winery Capacity: 400,000 cases.
Winemakers: Frank Newman, Aidan Menzies.
Viticulturist: Craig Thornton.
Soils: Rich, fertile calcareous earth, ranging from brown to red sandy loam.
Climate: Mediterranean. Warm and sunny.
Max. average temperature: 23.6 degrees Celsius.
Altitude: 50-70 metres (180-229 feet)
Mean number of clear days per year: 143.2
Mean annual Rainfall: 268.1mm
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.