The Vintage Report
2012 Mount Barker Vintage Review
2012 was a near perfect climatic vintage in the Mount Barker wine region. For the first time in a number of years the region experienced above average winter and spring rainfalls. This resulted in a full soil moisure profile and ample water storage during the early growth period of the grapevine.
A combination of the consistently warm spring and summer temperatures also promoted good growth and strong canopies. Good fruit set was achieved in the majority of varieties leading to moderate to good size bunches and an even fruit ripening.
Whilst the mean January temperatures were warmer than average, no extremely hot days were seen. This promoted strong functioning canopies, rapid fruit flavour development and early but even ripening.
Good spring rains also saw a fantastic flowering in the region's Marri gums. The flowering stretched through the whole ripening period and resulted in the lowest bird pressure that the Great Southern region has seen in years. The low impact of bird damage assisted in the overall high fruit yield and quality that was seen.
White varieties came into flavour ripeness in late Febrary to early March and the resulting Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines look excellent. Riesling displays delicate floral and citrus flavours and linear natural acids, with this acid giving mineral backbone the region is known for.
The Chardonnay variety was also a standout. Minimal temperature variation and the lack of rain during the final stages of ripening, allowed the winemakers to harvest Chardonnay at optimal flavour development and create the style of wine they wished to produce. Earlier harvesting gave a more restrained and elegant style and the wine from later picked fruit displays a richer and fuller flavour profile.
While the whites were being harvested, the reds were building fruit flavour, accumulating sugars and developing an elegant tannin structure. Little or no rain through summer and early autumn reduced disease pressure and resulted in the berries being of smaller than average size. This led to a concentration of flavour in the fruit and a great depth of colour and firm but elegant tannin development in the finished wine.
The Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2012 vintage is a standout and will result in outstanding wines on release in 2014. Small berries and moderate yields from vines with still fully functioning canopies will result in rich and elegant Cabernets. The season cooled down as we moved into March and April and the sugar accumulation was reined into line with flavour development. This enabled the red varieties to be picked with full flavours and resulted in wines with moderate alcohol.
All in all, another fantastic vintage for Mount Barker and the Great Southern region and one to watch out for in the future. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc wines are tracking for a late June release and look fresh, clean and vibrant. The 2012 reds are currently maturing in a mix of new French oak and tracking for release in 2014.
The 2011 vintage in the Great Southern was a classic! The intensity of colour and fruit depth in the red’s is exceptional, while the whites are exhibiting vibrant fruit characters and fresh acidity.
The surprise out of Mount Barker, given the warm season, was the quality of the Riesling. What is often considered a delicate variety is very strong this year with lime citrus characters and steely acid. The benefit of picking in the coolest part of the day from 3am-6am and processing immediately reduced any of the oxidation of these desirable flavours. Chardonnays were also strong with acids holding on giving winemakers the option of picking to style.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz were the standouts for the reds. Full tannin ripeness at desirable sugar ripeness and full flavour was achieved. The January rains helped maintain canopy health and with moderate crops the vines ripened the fruit easily. Notably, small areas of Tempranillo that were planted also had
possibly their best vintages to date.
Overall, the 2011 vintage will be remembered for near perfect weather conditions. Warm, sunny days, and cool rainless nights, characterised the ripening season. This allowed for slow, even ripening and optimal flavour development with no disease pressure.