McWilliam’s Wine 2014 Vintage Report for NSW Regions
After a warm winter with good rainfall which was right on long term average, the spring that followed was drier and warmer than average across southern NSW. In November most areas only received a third of normal rainfall.
Late season frost caused significant damage on flatter vineyard sites throughout southern NSW, with damage recorded in the Riverina, Hilltops, Canberra district and Tumbarumba. In the Riverina where vineyards are mostly located on flatter ground damage was extensive on varieties with an earlier budburst e.g. Chardonnay.
Regions with elevated and sloping vineyards such as Hilltops and Tumbarumba damage was more localised with some vineyards losing the entire crop and others with only light or no damage.
Summer was hot and dry across southern NSW leading to steady ripening with no disease at all. During February and March there were significant rain events across southern NSW which slowed down ripening and gave dry vineyards a valuable drink to finish ripening their ripening.
The majority of vineyards handled the rain well and completed ripening; a small amount of fruit was damaged and was consequently not harvested.
The warm and dry growing season in combination with frost across the regions led to small crops of Shiraz. Fruit ripened steadily until March rains which slowed down ripening. Shiraz harvested from elevated vineyards survived the rain intact and are true to the region with spicy aromatic fruit and soft silky medium bodied palates.
Hilltops had a very dry growing season with significant water stress leading to very low yields and incredibly small berries “bullets”.
Shiraz is dense and concentrated with impenetrably black colour, blood plum flavours and long mouth coating velvet tannins. Due to the perfect ripening conditions whole bunch fermentation was used to add lifted spice and aromatic fruit characters.
Cabernet Sauvignon had one of its best vintages in the region with intense concentrated wines with pure varietal characters. Again black intense colour and blackberry and cassis flavours with big long gravelly tannins, wines that are perfectly ripe and have structure for bottle ageing in the long term.
Orange had a warmer than normal season with riper fruit flavours. Whites performed well on elevated and sheltered sites protected from the intense midday sun. Sauvignon Blanc is tropical with mango and paw paw with weight and length on the palate.
The warm and dry spring/summer led to an early start to 2014 vintage with the first grapes being harvested on the 17th of January for sparkling base.
White varieties for table wine followed shortly after and vineyards with good canopies which protected the fruit from the hot conditions produced aromatic whites with fresh fruit flavours and strong varietal characters; including Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho and Chardonnay.
Reds were of high quality due to the dry conditions with lower than average yields of concentrated fruit, with mature and old vine Shiraz being a highlight. Wines have dense colour, rich black fruit with sweet long tannins.
After a hot & dry spring/summer, there were significant rain events in February and March which lead to botrytis disease pressure building in Chardonnay and Riesling. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc escaped any disease and remained clean throughout ripening and were picked at optimum ripeness. Cold conditions in spring did impact fruit set leading to lower than average yields.
Chardonnay table wines will again be the strongest wines of the vintage with harvest starting on the 19th of February and continuing until the 24th of March. Easterly facing slopes which were sheltered and elevated performed well with intense fruit flavours and retaining the typically high natural acidity of the region. Pinot Noir table wines are looking very promising though it is too early to make any definite predictions, again warmer conditions and lower yields have increased ripeness and concentration.
Throughout Southern NSW vintage 2014 wines are consistently of a high quality across all regions. The warm dry conditions and low yields have produced intense wines with fresh and concentrated flavours.
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