The weather has been the topic dominating discussion for the first 11 days of 2013 so I thought I would continue that trend and discuss this “unprecedented” heat wave that we are experiencing. Surprisingly enough, the rhetoric used by the media has been rather sensationalist, fear evoking and exaggerated. It certainly has been hot, but it is summer in Australia and well, it gets hot here. Apart from one day where the temperature reached 44 degrees in the Barossa (or about 110 degrees F) and it felt like the Mayan Apocalypse was making a late appearance, it has been perfect beach weather.
The real concern for the looming harvest has been the lack of rain. Compounding the dry conditions is the fact we received only 40% of normal rainfall from September to December; the most important time for rain for us. If it wasn’t for these dry conditions I think the season would be shaping up well.
As it is, the season is shaping to be very similar to 2007 when we experienced cool nights and late frosts and very dry conditions in the growing season. Some late frosts and irregular fruit set in 2013 have again contributed to what looks likely to be lower than average crops. I expect yields and in particular the bunch weights to be down and the wines to be quite concentrated with high skin to juice ratios.
I am really looking forward to the contest that faces us this harvest. I am hoping that the grey hairs that are creeping into my beard are a sign that I am wiser than I was six years ago and I am confident that the winemaking team and our growers have the skills to make some great wines from 2013. The obvious challenge will be balancing the power and richness with some elegance and structure and we will be striving for perfection with every batch of wine in a potentially small vintage.