2018 Vintage Report
The 2018 growing season kicked off reasonably well, with good, but by no means excessive, rainfall through winter and spring. So the vines had enough water to see good, healthy canopies heading into the warmer months.
It got pretty warm and dry in January, and especially through February, but growers who put the effort into good soil and water management avoided vine stress and ended up with some good quality fruit as a result. The warm weather brought on early lignification in seeds and stalks – always a good sign – with flavour development coming on early so we didn’t need to wait for physiological and flavour ripeness to catch up with sugar. With yields down a little, berries were generally small, with thick skins, colours were intense, and flavours were well concentrated.
Harvest in the Barossa lasted 5 weeks. We started picking Shiraz on the 2nd March, wrapping up with Mataro as the last pick on 9th April, so all in all, it was a well-paced vintage.
A cracker of a vintage with deep colours, intense, concentrated flavours and smooth, ripe tannins, with good palate depth, structure and line. Reds should have good ageing potential.
There was some exceptional Shiraz around this year. As well as some standout parcels from Steve Kurtz’s vineyard at Light Pass, most notably from the R6 and Shed blocks, I managed to pick up some stunning dry-grown Shiraz from the Ubertas vineyard, on the northern fringes of Light Pass. From 2018 vintage I’ll be producing two Shiraz wines – one in the core range with the red label, as well as the luxurious Black Shiraz.
Grenache was a standout this year (a hint of what’s to come?) as it thrives in warm, dry conditions, and I was really happy with a new pick-up of fruit from the Heidenreich vineyard in Vine Vale.
Mataro, again a warm-weather-lover, is also looking good, with Tony Kurtz’s Light Pass fruit displaying its usual high standards and the young block of Peter Sonntag’s at Stonewell starting to come into its own.
I also managed to convince Steve Kurtz to part with his precious Malbec, albeit a very small amount. Malbec doesn’t handle the heat quite so well, resulting a little bit of crop loss through berry shrivelling. But what we picked is looking rich and intense – it’s a variety I’m really excited about and looking forward to seeing how it matures over the coming months.