In recent years, what can we typify as a classic vintage? The long term ‘trend’ will now be so heavily influenced by abnormal vintages, it has become unreliable to use as a measuring tool. Vintage fluctuation is now more the rule rather than exception, so brace yourselves. It will come down to the inherent quality of the wine itself and the skill of the winemaker to show the wine’s pedigree and heritage through the mist of climate behaviour.
The numbers for the 2019 vintage are clear, with Growing Degree Days amongst the highest measured at 1345. The rainfall was gauged at 442mm over the growing and ripening season (September- April). What sets individual vintages apart is the timing of these; ideally low rainfall over December, January and February, then some slow release over March and April to keep the soils and vines “fresh”. Heat is welcome in moderate amounts, ideally below 30 degrees Celsius, and mostly between December and January with February and March a bit cooler.
The above was the case with rainfall, where precipitation occurred at near ideal times. The heat accumulation for the season saw a different path. Thanks to a mild, late winter, the vineyard woke up early from its winter dormancy. Spring progressed with cooler temperatures but did not hinder strong and healthy shoot development. However, it did also result in a series of frost events, of which one inflicted some damage on the shoots of our Pinot Gris. Since the flowering period in late Spring and early Summer still saw cool and wet weather, it is unclear how much damage the frost inflicted on the delicate flowers. In any case, the tumultuous weather in spring resulted in reduced yields. Temperatures rose quickly in December, resulting in vigorous and persistent vine growth until well into the New Year. By January the soils dried out and vintage conditions became very favourable.The stable and warm conditions, culminating in a short heatwave late January, lasted throughout the summer. Welcome cool nights contributed by keeping fresh flavours and strong acidity in the wine. We eventually commenced our harvest early again, on 11 March, with Lovat Pinot Noir and we completed the cycle with Lovat Syrah on 24 April, the day before Anzac day.