The 2019 seasonal conditions produced a harvest that started slightly earlier than average on February 7th but finished notably earlier on 17th April. The events that have created this outcome follow a dry winter and spring, affecting overall bunch weight. Wind and hail at flowering followed by 3 major frost events, affecting total berry and bunch count on many Torbreck and grower vineyards. The growing season was also defined by a continuously warm to hot summer with no effective rainfall events.
It has been a difficult season to manage for both grower and winemaker whereby a start and stop attitude was required for harvest as we waited for individual sites to reach maturity.
Vintage commenced harvesting the 1893 Philippou Semillon, followed by Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier from the Descendant vineyard to create the Steading Blanc. The vibrancy, fresh aromatics and delicate texture of these varieties in a warmer season is testament to their suitability in the Barossa Valley. As these three varieties are now resting in oak and tank on fine lees, I am quite excited to watch them evolve prior to assembling the 2019 blend.
As we moved from the 1858 Hillside vineyard in Lyndoch northwards towards Ebenezer, the effects of the season were very evident in the fruit we tasted in vineyards prior to harvesting. Smaller clusters of intensely dark berries with thick fleshy skins contrasted against brown mature stalks. Whilst yields were down from lack of rainfall, once these vineyards were fermenting in our cellar the concentration of colour tannin and aroma was revealed.
RunRig blocks in particular showed their resolute strength in a drier season whilst Grenache from Les Amis and Hillside blocks stood tall producing wines with tension and fruited aromatics.
The last variety to be harvested, Mataro, was least affected by the season. Avoiding most of the spring weather events due to its physiological timings,Mataro both yielded and created wines with deep colours and spice. This particularly strong varietal response to the season will auger blends like Steading and the single site expression of Pict from the Materne family in the western hills above Greenock.
The conclusion of the season still awaits good autumn and winter rainfall to put the vines to rest, but some promising forecasts are being predicted. The winemaking team will complete the tasks of barreling down the last wines to oak allowing them to settle. We look forward to the spring where our Woodcutter’s Rose and Whites will be released for all to enjoy.