2018 Vintage Snapshot: Victoria
Yarra Valley followed the vintage in two halves: a cool and relatively moist winter and spring needing disease control, thereafter conditions obstinately dry through to the conclusion of vintage. Chardonnay (as ever) was the standout.
The Mornington Peninsula had a vintage set to show special quality and quantity – the best for the past 30 years, comparable to 2004. Need for shoot and bunch thinning and, if done expeditiously, the result was fruit of great purity and quality
Geelong was cool to December 31, with heat rising in a dry January and February. Moderate yields, with very good chardonnay and pinot noir (the latter especially in Ballarat, too), shiraz strong in Geelong.
In Gippsland there was very good fruit set which promised generous yields, and rain fell when needed. A first class outcome across all varieties.
The Macedon Ranges had average winter and spring rain, then a wet January (twice average) that required strict disease control. February was dry and, through to the end of vintage, had perfect sunny weather (no sunburn issues). Pinot noir was very, very good, with thick skins requiring gentle vinification.
Bendigo stuck precisely to form for the vintage, the weather in two halves. Shiraz was definitely the standout, overall quality very high, yields variable.
Heathcote had a mild and wet spring, which led to very good fruit set. There were average yields due to lower than normal bunch weights. Shiraz was the standout with lovely colour and intensity
Grampians had a perfect spring, then the November 4 frost caused severe damage on lower altitude vineyards. It was a stop-start January, with some hot days, then cooler in February. Riesling was the standout, with high natural acidity
Henty had an utterly exceptional vintage, making it necessary to go back to 1988 to find one comparable. Early Easter (two full moons) provided a warm March and perfect weather to conclusion.
A dry, very warm start set the pattern for the Pyrenees, thereafter the only issue was applying sufficient water for optimal ripening. Moderate yields, with shiraz and cabernet sauvignon the standouts.
Beechworth precisely reflected the pre/post change in the weather, with significant rainfall before the new year, thereafter almost none. January provided a relatively brief heatwave, then cool conditions until a very warm beginning to April resulted in exceptional Bordeaux and Italian varieties plus the usual chardonnay.
A dry and warm spring with perfect fruit set in Nagambie Lakes was followed by two days of rain in early December, leading to a sea of verdant, almost fluorescent, green vineyards. Very good white wines, good to excellent reds.
Strathbogie Ranges was calm and steady, a complete contrast to the chaos of ’17. Winds in late summer and early autumn was the only issue of any kind. Shiraz and cabernet sauvignon did best.
Pinot gris and gewurztraminer are the standouts for Upper Goulburn in a year with average yield, some disease pressure after December rainfall the only issue.
Alpine Valleys had sunny days and even temperatures during ripening, which led to an early start, with crops generally down, but overall quality very high and natural acidity excellent. The standouts among many are chardonnay, vermentino, friulano, pinot blanc, arneis, tempranillo and shiraz.
Late budburst in the King Valley was followed by an early summer catch- up, with December rainfall leading to some disease pressure. January was dry and warm, downy mildew disappeared and vintage from that point on was perfect except for lighter bunch weights. Standouts are cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and prosecco.
Glenrowan and Rutherglen had a troublefree vintage that ran to a normal timetable, the standout varieties muscat and shiraz, topaque not far behind.