Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 South Australian Wine Vintage

Absolutely perfect – right up to the point when it all went pear shaped!

A record heat wave across South Australia, right in the middle of vintage lead, to temperatures of at least 35 for 15 straight days. This caused any fruit still on the vine to ripen very suddenly. Sugar levels went through the roof – 15, 16 baume, 18, 20, 22 baume. Sometimes jumping a couple of degrees in a day. Everything ripened at once, from the early ripening varieties through to the late.

Consequently everyone was trying to get their fruit off the vines and into the winery. Not only were pickers even more difficult to get hold of than usual, but most wineries were at full capacity, with a two week delay before they could accept any more fruit. Fruit stayed on the vine, becoming ultra ripe. A two month vintage suddenly become a two to three week event.

It will be a great year for fortified wines – and they won’t need to be fortified with brandy spirit. Look out for some big wines, with high alcohol.

Up to that point, everything was going fantastically. With half the fruit in across South Australia’s premium wine regions, it was going to be an early vintage again. The yields were likely to be slightly below average, making it easy for the vines to ripen what was there. Warm dry conditions lead to little disease pressure. The quality was expected to be very good.

So wines from fruit before the heatwave will be great, wines from after the heatwave will be great for Mr Parker.

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