The summer prior to our 2018 harvest showed steady rainfall up to Christmas - regular but not excessive as in 2017. This augured very well for a perfect harvest. However, we then experienced a period of severe drought which lasted well into April. This resulted in reduced yields particularly for Shiraz. Our harvest finished as usual with our Eden Valley Grenache, Barossa Valley Grenache and Barossa Valley Mataro being picked in the very first few days of May. Generally the fruit quality was excellent and 2017 wines should be of top quality.
We begam pm 6th February with our Barossa Valley whites and finished with our Eden Valley Shirazes and Rieslings. It was an unusual year, with a lot of stop/start, but the wines are now inside the winery and beginning their long and slow development. We look forward to the result.
As in previous years, our pre-picking didgeridoo ceremony was performed by our neighbour Ron who in between managing the technical operations of AP John (the leading Barossa cooperage) is a professional musician talented in many fields including Aboriginal instruments and threir music. Trial Hill, to anyone who comes to visit, is clearly a very spiritual place. We believe it is only fitting that before receiving each year the vineyard's bounty we should pay tribute to the ancient guardians of this precious land, and ask their blessing.
The harvest was characterized by good rainfall during the growing season, but (despite some very hot days in February and the odd rainstorm in March) generally warm weather throughout the ripening period and the harvest. The result has been wonderful ripe fruit and one of the best harvests in recent memory. The lack of truly hot weather has resulted in long ripening particularly for our Eden Valley fruit and for our Mataro. We are looking forward with excitement to the resulting wines!
Everyone in the Barossa was eagerly looking forward to the first “normal” vintage after the drought years. Sadly they were disappointed! Throughout the Barossa, it rained almost continuously from November 2010 right through harvest. The vineyards were reminiscent of World War I Flanders battlefields. Disease was high, despite everyone’s best efforts. Probably because of our biodynamic farming practices, the Maverick vineyards were less affected than was generally the case, but the red wines in particular very much reflected the vintage – they are less full bodied, lower in alcohol, and much more “European” than the normal Barossa offerings. Anyone who claims that vintages in the new world are identical has only to look at the last 8 years to see how each vintage was indeed radically different.
Excellent winter rainfall gave our vineyards a much-awaited seasonal rainfall, for the first time in 5 years. This greatly assisted the development of the vines/grapes. The only disappointment was very hot weather in November, which resulted in very poor fruit set for Grenache across the region - as a result, Grenaches yields were sharply down (often as much as 70%) from the excellent yields in 2009. Conversely, Shiraz and other varieties did well both in volume and in quality. Unlike the previous 3 years, there was no excessive heat in the immediate run-up to harvest - just a few very warm days end Jan which did not in any way impair developments in the vineyard. The result of this felicitous combination of rain and warm weather led to an early ripening across both the Barossa and Eden Valley. Our harvest started in mid February, but will extend to early April. As a result, it was possible to take the fruit in a relatively orderly manner - again unlike the frantic rush to get grapes in before Baume levels soared which characterised the previous vintages.
The result was an excellent harvest in terms of quality. Reflecting our biodynamic viticulture practices in the vineyard, and a regime these last few years of virtually dry farming, the Maverick yields were generally low, giving nonetheless intense ripe fruit which we hope will form the base for some wonderful 2010 vintage wines.
The 2009 harvest was another hot year, but without the intense heat wave which resulted in such a short harvest in 2008. The resulting reds were full bodied Barossa in character, with elegance and complexity/concentration. The resulting wines and the vintage in general are of wonderful stature.
The lead up to the 2008 vintage in Eden Valley was ideal, with a frost free spring period together with good rainfall.
Rapid spring shoot growth together with good flowering and fruit set lead to average yield potential. The ripening period was a function of two extremes, with a hot dry start to summer followed by an unusually cool period from mid January to mid February. Good even flavour and colour development occurred until early March when an unprecedented heat wave of 15 days commenced.
The fruit from Old Ben was picked early in the heat wave after a short period of berry concentration, however, good varietal characters and acid were retained because of the old vines' ability to buffer the effects of the extreme conditions.
The 2006-2007 growing season was one of extremes that lead to reduced yields and early harvest.
A particularly dry winter and spring period lead to increased presence of frost risk with many parts of the Australia’s wine growing regions experiencing yield reducing frosts. Sections of the Barossa Valley and pockets of Eden Valley were also affected.
With growing season rainfall well below average and temperatures well above average the vines were made to work hard which produced clean fruit of good quality. Other climatic challenges came from a number of heat waves in December, January and February which effectively reduced yields in most areas and advanced sugar ripeness.
To compound the low yield scenario a significant rain event during late January caused a great deal of splitting in most varieties in the Barossa Valley, however, subsequent warm dry weather averted any disease pressure.
This rain, however, was a blessing in Eden Valley where the grapes were not advanced enough to be susceptible to splitting but benefited from some much needed soil moisture.
The fruit quality was very good from both Eden Valley and Barossa Valley with the stand outs being Barossa Valley Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre and Eden Valley Riesling and Shiraz. Yields in the Barossa Valley were generally 50% of average while Eden Valley was about 70% of average.