Overall, the 2013 vintage was challenging in several ways however, in particular, by being such a dry season across the majority of regions we took fruit from. These dry conditions, coupled with warm to hot weather and variable yield levels forced the growers to manage their blocks carefully, especially with regards to soil moisture and subsequent irrigation. Through the growing season, Toby and I worked tirelessly with the growers and as a result, I feel, the quality of the wines from 2013 are extremely solid. Vintage started on time with the Frontignac coming into the winery first up however there was no lull before the reds, which came in thick and fast and was steady for the following seven weeks. Although not as compressed as 2008, we did finish with the Barossa Mataro coming in about three weeks earlier than normal.
Rainfall in winter was moderate and low in spring, which created many nervous growers and wineries, but thankfully some good rain in December (20mm in one day) and 2 good falls in February helped the vineyards in Clare get through in healthy condition. Although Shiraz yields were down, Riesling and Malbec yields were good and overall the quality from Clare was exceptional.
With extremely low winter and spring rainfall, most growers commenced irrigation in August 2012 to make up for the shortfall, in an attempt to give the vines the best possible start to the season. We noticed that yields were going to be low quite early in the season and by December, we had secured some excellent extra sources of Shiraz fruit. By the end of vintage, although yields were slightly down, the quality of the Shiraz was very solid.
This region is pretty well bulletproof. Although it experienced a very dry growing season, winter rainfall was well ahead of average (with supplement irrigation not starting until the 2013 New Year). As a result the region had a wonderful start to the season resulting in good, healthy canopies and in the end yields were ahead of estimates. Both the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon look excellent this year.
Although the region had below average rainfall for the year, the winter falls were very good and, as a result, the season started off very well allowing vineyards to develop good sized, healthy canopies. Yields were about average in most cases. Apart from a good rain event in the middle of February, the season, like many other regions, was extremely dry and warm. With carefully applied irrigation in the second half of the season, the vintage went well in Padthaway and the Shiraz looks great.
The region experienced a very dry and warm January to March, but with solid 2012 winter rains, both in the region and in the hills to the north, the Bremer and Angus Rivers flowed during the winter. As a result most vineyards on the flood plain were flooded at least once, with our block being flooded twice. As a result, the soil HAD an extremely deep moisture profile and the block had only one supplementary irrigation through the entire season. The vineyard was very healthy throughout the season with only average yields however, at first assessment, quality is very good.
After a winter of moderate rainfall, in the latter part of the growing season, the east coast of Australia seemed to be affected by a weak La Nina pattern during ripening and after a dry January, received some good precipitation in late February and again in March. As mentioned, it was a weak pattern, so although it brought rainfall, disease pressure was not excessive. The vineyards remained in good condition for the entire season and although some of the rain events limited access to the blocks, the fruit was picked in good condition and was brought directly to the winery in the Barossa Valley to be processed. On all accounts, post pressing our Heathcote Shiraz looks very solid.