The 55th vintage at Jim Barry Wines started with a rush after a week of 40°C plus weather in early February. Water was kept up to the vines to make sure the canopy stayed intact.
The 30 year old dry grown parcel within the Lodge Hill vineyard was picked first at around 10.5° Baume. This vineyard delivers beautiful natural acidity and citrus characters that ripen early because of the small crop it produces.
We then moved to Watervale and got the first batch off at about 10.8° Baume. Then the rain came. The Clare Valley was fortunate to only receive 13.8mm on the 14h February, which hydrated the vines without causing splitting. The further 75.8mm received over two hours on the 15th February quickly ran off.
It was at this time that fruit selection became important. We made the cut in the vineyard, leaving behind anything which was even slightly raisined or damaged. By the time we finished the Lodge Hill vineyard we were up around 11.8° Baume and the fruit was all in very good condition.
The classification tasting on March 18 justified the winemaking team’s decision-making. The wines look fantastic – some tropical notes amongst the citrus aromas, intense lemon/lime flavours, lovely acidity and excellent length.Extra precautions were taken in the winery, separating juice from skins quickly and reducing the free run juice percentage, sending more off to pressings. We’ve learnt to be very careful and guard against phenolics in a year like this. We like our Rieslings to be fresh and vibrant, at the sharp end of the lime/citrus spectrum.
Volumes are slightly down, but we believe in maintaining quality at the expense of quantity. As an indication of what we think of the quality of 2014, we will be making ‘The Florita’ Riesling this year. We don’t make it unless we find an outstanding parcel of grapes from our Florita vineyard in Watervale.
This vintage has been outstanding for Clare Shiraz, which produced intensely flavoured berries. The rain in early February was almost perfectly timed as it allowed flavour ripeness to catch up to the tannin and sugar ripening, so that at harvest they were in balance. The resultant wines are deeply coloured, and show great vibrancy with bright blue fruits, cherry and Satsuma plum with fine grained ripe tannins.
The team finished picking Cabernet in Clare in early April. It has benefitted from the three weeks of 25 degree days and 10 degree nights – long slow ripening means a refined, classic Cabernet flavour profile.
After the second wettest winter in 28 years and above average spring rains – Coonawarra then sweltered through the hot and dry conditions in January and February. From late February the weather reverted to the typical moderate days and cool nights that Coonawarra is well known for and the Cabernet benefited from a long ripening period. Cabernet in Coonawarra finished up in the first week of May drawing to a close the longest vintages Jim Barry Wines has experienced. Fortunately it was worth the wait.