Vintage 2015 started with good rain falls in winter up until August, but subsequently we experienced dry conditions all through spring and early summer. A big dump of rain fell in January freshening up the vines after the long dry season, but this was the only significant rain of the growing season. Temperatures were generally cool running up to a single hot spell of 2 days around Christmas hitting 40 C then followed by cooler weather with very cold nights, right through to harvest.
Many regions experienced very early vintages in Australia in 2015 and budburst was indeed early, however Coonawarra was cooled down and ripening slowed by its proximity to the Southern Ocean and cooling onshore winds. A phenomenon known as the “Bonney upwelling” occurs along the limestone coast where very cold water from deep in the Southern ocean wells up along the coast keeping water temperatures low and cooling on shore winds. Night time temperatures were as low as 4 – 5 C during late January and February dramatically slowing ripening and pushing our harvest period back to late March and the first 3 weeks of April, very close to long term average timing.
Cool weather during flowering again reduced fruit set and yields were down, with noticeably smaller berry sizes this year particularly noticeable in Shiraz, but also in Cabernet and Merlot. This year we picked the entire harvest using berry sorting technology on our picking bins, removing unwanted stalks, petioles, leaf etc, having trialed various units for the last 3 years.
The wines are brightly coloured with lovely fresh dark fruit aromas and perfumed aromatics typical of vintages with even mild temperatures. Tannins are delicate and refined, giving the wines a very elegant and perfumed quality. Vintage temperature dynamics were very similar to 2014, except for hotter temperatures for longer in January in 2014. Both look to be very good vintages in Coonawarra.