With record breaking rainfall during the early growing season, this year’s vintage was the slowest to kick off for over a decade. The 2017 harvest began on the 6th of March with Riesling and our last load of Cabernet was delivered on the 1st of May.
Clare was very fortunate with the weather conditions following Christmas. After a wet Spring and start to Summer, the rain dried up and the vines had a chance to dry out. Temperatures remained mild, which enabled the Riesling to ripen with intense citrus flavours and floral aromatics while retaining racy acidity.
The Shiraz vines benefited from the plentiful soil moisture, producing healthy canopies which supported plump fruit. The long, dry ripening period allowed the fruit to produce intensely coloured wines with typical blueberry and cherry flavours, while retaining a more elegant savoury tannin profile than warmer years.
Cabernet will be the standout performer for reds in Clare for us this year with some outstanding fruit from our premium blocks. We were able to “hang” the fruit out to generate intense flavours without losing varietal character or accumulating high sugar levels.
The Assyrtiko harvest this year followed the trend of vintage and was three to 5 weeks later than last year. The cooler and slower ripening conditions produced balanced fruit with full ripe flavours with lower potential alcohols than previous years, while retaining natural acidity. This natural acidity, I believe, will be a distinctive feature of this variety. We now have four different vineyard sites in Clare, and as the vines mature, they are starting to show subtle differences which will increase the complexity of the wines we produce.
There is still plenty of work to do in the winery, but we look forward to what we can achieve with the wines we have produced this vintage.