VINTAGE REPORTS

VINTAGE IS THE PERIOD FROM THE FIRST TO THE LAST HARVEST OF GRAPES AND THE COMPLETION OF ALL FERMENTATION. IN THE MARGARET RIVER WINE REGION, THIS TYPICALLY SPANS FROM THE MIDDLE OF FEBRUARY UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF MAY, A PERIOD OF 12 WEEKS.

 
Photo Credit |  AMATO VINO

Photo Credit | AMATO VINO

If you're keen to 'try before you buy' then why not research the conditions that will have influenced the overall style of the wines from that region.

A simple rule is that un oaked whites, i.e. Sauvignon blanc Semillon blends can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months before being released, whilst the more complex oaked styles such as Chardonnays often can take up to 12 to 18 months.

The process is a little more straight forward for red wines and so allow for between 12 to 24 months depending on the maturation.

We have summarised for you below a quick reference guide with scores out of 10 taken from the Halliday Vintage Chart, and including observations from various Margaret River vintage reports.

 

2014

The 8th successive year of favourable weather conditions and quite typical of the regions west coast Mediterranean climate. Truly exceptional white fruit has been grown this year showing very intense varietal flavours. With the red vintage, all varietals are showing vibrant fruit ripe intensity, great colour and balanced tannin profiles. 2014 will again be a very high-quality vintage from Margaret River showcasing the regions hallmark strengths of elegance, finesse and great ageing potential.

8/10 for reds | 9/10 for whites


2015

Margaret River’s 2015 white wine vintage was reported as one of the earliest completed on record! Fruit quality was again very good with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon displaying intense varietal characteristics and crisp natural acidity. Chardonnay also has a great length to its acidity and with quite soft line of phenolics.

Quality as usual is high, however yields are down across the board especially so in Chardonnay and Semillon but less so in Sauvignon Blanc. Due to some late inclement weather, the reds were afforded some extra ‘hang time’ to enhance fruit development flavour profiles with softer tannin levels arising consequently.

8/10 for reds | 9/10 for whites


2016

Another superb vintage in wine paradise and a vintage of action and patience and. It was possibly the longest harvest period of any region in Australia this year and overall, it was a good season in terms of fruit quality and yields.

Actual February temperatures were slightly below the long-term average, though it was dry and sunny. Night temperatures were cooler than the long-term average, including the coldest February night recorded in Margaret River (5.5°C). As a result, all white varieties (Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc) were harvested showing elegant flavours and high natural acidity. March delivered ideal conditions with a long-term day time average temperature of 25.6 degrees and a lower than average rainfall, ideal for finishing off the reds with vibrant, fresh fruit perfumes. The extended season allowed tannin's to ripen perfectly with a refined profile and the lack of high temperature extremes has preserved fruit flavours exceptionally.

9/10 for reds | 9/10 for whites


2017

The 2017 Margaret River vintage started two to three weeks later than the preceding couple of years.  Early ripening varieties such as Chardonnay were harvested at the end of February through the first half of March. The reason for this was the mild, cool spring weather experienced across the southern part of the state. This can be quite beneficial as cool ripening conditions helps maintain the fresh, bright aromas of these early white varieties.  Varieties like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from 2017 are quite stunning in their liveliness and flavour at relatively low alcohol levels. During the middle and latter part of March the South-West region including Margaret River experienced a very unusual amount of rain and very cool weather, ripening over this period was very slow.  However, anyone that has lived though the late April and early May in the South-West of Western Australia will testify that never had we had a better, warmer early autumn. 

It was simply perfect; cool crisp mornings and evenings but beautiful warm and sunny days; not too hot, textbook conditions for great ripening especially for the key Margaret River variety Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2017 vintage may well prove to be a classic Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon year, a year like 1994 with great flavours and mature tannin at lower alcohol levels.  Elegant rather than robust, flavour rather than force.

8/10 for reds | 8/10 for whites


2018

Margaret River performed as usual so far as the weather was concerned, with rain heavy in winter (20% above average), below average for spring, and with perfect growing conditions through December and on into late February, with only five days above 30°C. One vigneron reported, ‘Beautiful clarity and purity of fruit; incredibly expressive wines from [their] site; depth and concentration with power, yet elegance and high natural acidity. Epic vintage.’

(HALLIDAY VINTAGE CHART RATINGS NOT AVAILABLE FOR 2018)

Jasmin Bernhagen