In the Yarra Valley a dry winter and spring, with record warmth in October, saw the vines leap out of the starting blocks and race to another very early harvest. Yields were all higher than in recent years, but even though a hot (though not windy) January was to follow, the vine canopies remained in perfect health with no leaf senescence; there was an exceptionally compressed harvest. There are high hopes for pinot noir (once again, and despite the heat), shiraz and the other red varieties; the prime white variety, chardonnay, will be good, but not a repeat of great vintages such as 2011 and 2014.
The Mornington Peninsula threw a curve ball at global warming, with the coldest winter in 26 years. Just as in the Yarra Valley, very low rainfall created issues, October having the lowest rainfall since 1900. January rain filled out the bunches, and yields were moderate to high, particularly on the whites. The best variety was pinot noir, the overall quality average to above average.
Geelong followed the pattern with early budburst and rapid growth through to Christmas, but January was not as hot as in some nearby regions, and some vineyards had very high yields of pinot noir: a puzzle explained only by the large size of the seeds in what were generally quite plump berries. A site-specific pattern was evident, with some nominating chardonnay as the standout variety; quality is expected to be good to very good.
The Macedon Ranges created all sorts of records – the lowest recorded rainfall since 2006, the warmest October on record, the warmest December since 2004, a February without rain, the earliest vintage ever. The picks were pinot noir and chardonnay, the overall quality excellent.
Bone-dry soils at budburst in Sunbury caused issues for those without water. Low to moderate yields resulted in shiraz, chardonnay and viognier with moderate alcohol and (shiraz) deep colour.
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