In the wake of Australia's tough start to the year, the McLaren Vale wine region is heartened to share a positive outlook for the 2020 vintage.
Dry weather conditions throughout the spring and summer months of 2019 resulted in careful management by growers, alleviating the onset of stress in most vineyards.
Harvest in McLaren Vale extended into early April. Yields for varieties ranged around 25%-50% lower than last season.
During Winter and Spring, we recorded our lowest ever rainfall on record (since 1978) on our family properties, matched with higher average temperatures in Spring.
The strong winds we experienced during flowering in late November - hot from the north and cold from the southeast - reduced potential yield for the vintage.
Extremely hot weather in December then came to really make matters worse.
Over the Summer the region experienced very little rainfall. Overall disease levels remained low due to the dry and warm, windy conditions.
However, in January we had heavy rainfall which placed pressure on potential berry splitting and botrytis.
Bushfires in the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island in December and January caused smoke drift across the McLaren Vale Wine Region.
The risk of smoke tainted fruit was extremely low as the smoke exposure occurred prior to veraison.
In harvest, we experienced a long cool ripening period. The rate of ripening was slower than recent previous seasons. This was beneficial to wine quality.
Natural acidity levels have remained high, Baume’s tended to be higher than normal to get full flavour in the fruit.
In the end, McLaren Vale was very lucky, and in particular we feel our regenerative farming approach really assisted above average results, in the toughest growing season we have ever experienced.
Wine quality looks particularly promising in Shiraz, Cabernet, Grenache, and Tempranillo. Shiraz at this early stage looks to be the star of the vintage with low crops and smallish berry size for concentrated flavours.
My view on this vintage is that it was relentless, physical, painful...and out of that comes something special.
Cheers Malcolm Leask