In Langhorne Creek, early winter rainfall was light, but regular and so whilst the vines didn’t get a deep drink, grass growth was good and cover (including hay) crops grew beautifully. Very useful for ground cover and mulch to retain moisture given the extremely dry late winter spring and early summer.
The warm and dry spring was challenging for irrigation but good for flowering and led to good fruit set in all varieties, leading to even berry development making harvest decisions easy and leading to good flavour at moderate sugar levels.
The Summer was generally quite cool, with some reasonable rainfalls in January and February giving the vines a much needed drink. We experienced very few days over 35 degrees, which didn’t help our heat mitigation trials! They will need to wait until next year.
As per usual, cooling breezes from ‘the Lake’ (Lake Alexandrina) helped to maintain excellent natural acidity and making Langhorne Creek nights considerably cooler than all other central regions; particularly Adelaide and including all but the coolest parts of the Adelaide Hills.
The February harvest of Verdelho started on time in Langhorne Creek, but as per last year, reds followed very soon afterwards.
The moderate ripening conditions and above average crops allowed steady harvest pattern with most fruit being ready for harvest with good colour, tannin and acidity at 12.5-14 Baume. The low spring rainfall led to low nutrient in vines and wine and some fermentation challenges, but reduced alcohol levels assisted in ensuring dryness was achieved without difficulty. The vines this year also dropped leaf within a week of harvest (as opposed to the usual month or 2), something I usually see in Tasmania and New Zealand on the lighter soils, probably also due to the dry spring and cool summer/autumn we have experienced.
Harvest finished late March as per last year with some of the later Cabernet and Petit Verdot vineyards being amongst the best quality of the season.
The above average yields more than made up for last year’s short fall, and the even fruit set and berry development led to excellent vine balance.
Shiraz quality is solid as always along with Grenache and Merlot. Malbec quality is certainly above average but the star variety this season is Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wine quality at this early stage is as good as I have experienced in Langhorne Creek, probably on par with 2012 – but we will see how the wines mature.
Hopefully we can capture the fresh fruit flavour apparent in the wines now as it is magnificent!
Written by Paul Hotker, Bleasdale Senior Winemaker, April 2016