Notes on the just completed 2019 harvest.
After fifty consecutive winery days it finally feels like the harvesting and fermenting are done! The resulting wines in barrel tell the story of a remarkable and exceptionally successful season. It is now we take our first steps off the roller coaster that began in September 2018 and concluded in these first April weeks of 2019. Whilst still slightly giddy, the mind, like the wines, is naturally clearing and brightening.
This growing season began with the driest September in 110 years after a winter disappointingly devoid of saturating rains. It was an eerie omen and had us on edge for what could unfold as the Spring progressed. October saw an unprecedented run of frosts and our nerves were further frayed. Then, thankfully, the season making rains came. November and December provided relieving rainfall and the vines flourished and the dams rose. It really was a dramatic turnaround and the scene and the fruit became set for a potentially great run to harvest. These rains came with a little cost as a tickle of downey mildew saw a few berries lost and an unfriendly thunderstorm delivered berry splitting hail to any exposed bunches on the eastern side of the canopy. But, in the scheme of the season, these maladies were of little consequence.
The dramatic and weathering ride continued into January as the heat reared and seared what had been splendid green grass over the new year. It proved to be the hottest January recorded. February saw cooler and calmer conditions and it felt like the season had shifted, however a late sting in the tail saw some late month heat which brought forward the harvest of the high density vineyards (including the first crop from Block 8) and some earlier ripening clones in the Kaye vineyard. Overall March was quite mild and saw the harvest run over a record number of days with a March 7th commencement and a conclusion on the 26th. This meant most blocks ripened quite slowly and benefited from a run of lovely autumnal weather where the cool nights preserved acidity and freshness and the sunny days built intensity and structure.
Comparing the sublime 2018 season and wines to the 2019s makes for an intriguing assessment. The 2018s give the impression of effortless beauty; they are fine and fragrant, harmonious and driven with fabulous ageing potential. The 2019s are more powerfully structured yet have quite beautiful fruit embedded inside the scale. Such early days but perhaps for the next five years the 2018s will charm while the 2019s brood? The run of fine seasons, beginning with the marvellous 2015, has quite remarkably continued.