2018 vintage is set to be labeled an amazing vintage, with superb conditions and fruit of outstanding quality being harvested.
The Winter and Spring rainfall leading into the 2018 season was excellent at 20% above long-term averages, soil moisture was replenished, and aquifers recharged. Winter was cold delivering a good dormancy.
An unusual single black frost on the 4th November, damaged vines throughout the Limestone Coast, and reduced yields in some of the northern vineyards of Coonawarra.
October through December was two degrees warmer than average, but without peak temperatures causing and issues this advanced flowering by three days (24th November, 80% capfall) compared to regional long-term phenology. The flowering to fruit set period was quick, assisting in good berry numbers.
The berry development and ripening period from December to mid-April was very dry, delivering only 50mm, which is half the normal rainfall. Consequently, there was no disease pressure.
The warm Summer temperatures advanced veraison by two weeks, to the end of January then a strong “Bonney“ coastal upwelling cooled March, and extended the ripening period such that Cabernet was harvested in line with long term harvest dates (early April) predominantly from the last week of March through the first two weeks of April.
The yields were moderate, and the slow cool ripening was very even, delivering fruit with fine tannins and strong varietal flavours.
Early indications of the 2018 Vintage suggest that the grape quality is outstanding. All winemakers in the region are talking positively with comments that the colour is good, balanced tannins and good fruit weight. With varieties showing the following characteristics:
Cabernet Sauvignon – deep dark colour with intense fruit character and soft ripe tannins.
Shiraz – deep colour and rich ripe fruit with excellent structure.
Whites – showing good balance.
This is great news as the demand for fruit in the region is high, particularly in Cabernet – the variety that makes up 65% of the regions plantings.