Monday, April 07, 2014

Was 2014 the Vintage of the Decade?

Our wine region, the Shoalhaven Coast, has a viticultural climate classification of warm maritime.
Without going into a lot of technical detail of how this is established, it generally means warm to hot, humid and wet vintages, with increased rainfall around harvest time.
This raises the problems of diluted juice and fungal diseases.
Along with the Hunter Valley, a few hundred kilometers to the north, we have one of the highest Branas Indices for a wine growing area in Australia.
Grape growers in the region have learned to live with this and most have modified their viticultural practices accordingly.
Grape varieties suitable for the climate are normally grown. Some have even gone as far as planting fungal resistant hybrids (European + American crosses) eg. Chambourcin.

OK, I do have Pinot Noir which is a cool climate variety but only because 'they' said I couldn't grow it. I think the score is about even ie. 5 harvests and 5 'don't bothers' after 10 years. Out of those five harvests we had one outstanding wine, the others, passable.
Trellis design, vine training and pruning for open canopies that allow good air circulation and spray and sunlight penetration are important.
And most employ protective spray rather than curative spray programs.
So the 2013/2014 season (2014 Vintage) started off quite normally. It is fine to have some good rain during the early growing season. But then, from late December through January and into February the rain stayed away. This allowed the 'early' maturing varieties eg, Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Tempranillo to ripen without the threat of juice dilution and the outbreak of disease eg. botrytis. Sugar levels were high, acid levels were good and flavour components optimal.
March, usually our wettest month, was also dry up until the last week when the heavens opened up and dropped more than 200mm on us over 3 days.
But by then the 'late' maturing varieties eg. Cabernet Sauvignon, were already off the vines and bubbling away in the fermenters.

So? The vintage of the decade?
I think it could well be.

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