Thursday, 3 March 2016

Hype machine goes into overdrive over vintage 2016

All the signs are good - so far. It is early days but the Hunter Valley appears to have dodged a bullet and South Australian winemakers are making all the right noises as fruit arrives in wineries all over Australia for vintage 2016.

In cooler regions like southern Victoria and Tasmania, it looms as an early vintage with some sparkling material already being picked, while there is much optimism in South Australia.

"Although it was our earliest start to vintage on record, indications are that we have above-average quality for Katnook white wines," says veteran Coonawarra winemaker Wayne Stehbens. "Sparkling wine and all still white wines are fermenting evenly and should be finished mid-March.


"The cooler nights and days experienced in early March are expected to slow down the maturities of red grapes, which will be great for colour and flavour retention. March will be very busy and we will probably finish late March or early April."

Jock Harvey of Chalk Hill in McLaren Vale is even more upbeat, saying: "McLaren Vale's 2016 vintage is set to be one of the best. We sit on the cusp of the most exciting harvest in memory."

Senior winemaker Neville Rowe at Chateau Tanunda in the Barossa Valley says he is excited by the potential of 2016.

"All in all the fruit quality is really very good and we will see some outstanding wines for 2016, especially in the shiraz and cabernets," Rowe said. "The pre-vintage rainfall was an absolute gift for all of us in the Barossa and will mean some blocks which were looking very good, are now looking to be outstanding."

That is echoed by Stuart Bourne of Soul Growers, who told Wine Business Magazine: " it will go down as an absolute belter in the Barossa archives, once done and dusted."

In the Riverland, Frank Newman of Deakin Estate says: "The last of the shiraz, as well as malbec and cabernet are yet to be harvested meaning vintage will finished by mid-March.

"I would class this vintage as one delivering good ripe flavours with plenty of depth on the palate."

In the Hunter there was concern heavy rain in January would wipe out much of the vintage, but a spike in temperatures in February allowed some last-minute ripening.

"For those vines that hung in there through that rain, the red wine, in particular, is outstanding," says Andrew Margan from Margan Family Wines. 


At tiny Resolution Vineyard in the far south of Tasmania, viticulturist Peter Brown predicted picking at the end of March - almost a month earlier than usual - and said the vines were on course for "a spectacular year for both yield and quality."

In most regions, then, so far, so good. And fingers crossed.








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