Vintage 2019 started as per usual with the first of our grapes, the Semillon from Schulz’s in Ebenezer, picked late February. This was followed by the Grenache and Mataro grapes from the home block in Stone Well for our 2019 Rose. However, the first few weeks in March have been dominated by Shiraz with all our Shiraz (9 parcels in total) from the Barossa now in the winery. Just the Coonawarra Shiraz remains on the vine, and will do so for a few weeks to come.
2019 vintage will be remembered for incredibly harsh conditions, drought, heat, wind, frost and hail, meaning yields are down by perhaps 50% or more on average. Marcus tells me it is similar to 83 and 67 before that, but clearly I cannot comment from personal experience. The positive side? The quality looks extremely good at this early stage. A vintage for the small winemaker, a tough one for the soul of the Barossa - the growers.
The vines have produced small and in many cases tiny berries with intense flavours, high natural acids and massive tannin profiles. Although the ferments are still under way, the wines are showing extraordinarily deep purple colours, intense flavours and extraordinary tannin profiles. Shiraz will be wonderful this year!
But it is not all about Shiraz. We picked our Adelaide Hills Pinot last week and it too looks fantastic. Our old vine MV6 clone Pinot has produced tiny bunches of even smaller berries than normal. You can see below the difference between Shiraz on the left and Pinot on the right. The Shiraz bunches are small with tiny berries, but the Pinot takes this to another level. Andrew will have a task on his hands to control the tannin this year.
Looking forward, the later ripening Grenache and Mataro still have some time to spend on the vine, as does our Coonawarra Cabernet. The Coonawarra seems to have escaped the harsh conditions and normal yields of very high quality fruit are expected.
At this stage, we are expecting to pick the field blend from Stone Well in about a week’s time, followed by the Grenache, Mataro and finally the Coonawarra Cabernet sometime in April.
We are approaching half way through Vintage 2019. Much is still to happen but 2019 will always be remembered as a year of high quality and very low yields.