Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2012 McLaren Vale Vintage - Part 2

Around the district grape harvesting is continuing at pace. Shiraz from Blewitt Springs and Clarendon, plus Cabernet Sauvignon is being crushed this week. Mourvèdre from the Sellicks Foothill is also ripe. The trend of low vineyard yields producing fantastic quality juice in the winery is continuing. Expectations are high that McLaren Vale will produce another classic vintage.

Left - The cloud streaked view from Inkwell Wines.

“Harvest has been perfectly timed, with cool weather conditions for maturing grapes,” says Bradley Cameron, who has spent the harvest driving tractor pick up in his family’s vineyards. “Red grapes have been looking really dark in the picking bins. That is always a good sign.”

Right - Grapes at the Patritti Wines crusher.

The vintage has not been without one dramatic turn. The McLaren Vale region received its average seasonal rainfall, all on one day. Moist air drawn down from the north west of Australia saw 60mm of rain recorded on the last day of summer. The rain event on Wednesday the 29th of February put nerves on edge but miraculously the teeming skies only caused a minor to pause in picking. Fortunately the district’s famous winds picked up after the rain and quickly dried vineyards out.

Once the puddles had dispersed tractors returned to work and wineries were able to restart picking within 48 hours. Bunches on the vine did not split and minimal late season disease has been seen as a consequence.

Right - Cabernet Sauvignon being harvested at Paxton Wines.

It is an honest assessment to label this a very good vintage. It could even be remembered as a great vintage if cool and dry weather continues through March allowing full flavour development in Grenache and other late season varieties. While the forecasts remain dry, optimism is high that Vineyard 2012 will produce wines the community is proud of.

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