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Canberra experiences a record vintage

Ken Helm of Helm Wines at Murrumbateman and a pioneer of the Canberra District, completed yesterday his 32nd vintage with Riesling and 30th with Cabernet, just hours before 20mm of rain started falling and the outset of cool autumn temperatures. Ken can’t believe his luck. Dry warm conditions from early February to his last day of harvest, then 20+ mm of rain. Some wineries in the District are not so fortunate, and may have waited just a bit too long and are now sitting waiting for the rain to stop.

The 2008 vintage is a record crush for Helm Wines (over 60 tonnes) which includes 2000 cases of Riesling — the largest producer of Riesling in the Canberra District. Ken believes the 08 Rieslings will be as good as the outstanding 2005 vintage. Canberra District record yields are up 15% to 20% more than usual, but still retaining excellent acid, high sugar levels and ripe fruit flavours.

Ken reports the excellent vintage was caused by good late spring summer rains, and a green Christmas – an unusual event for normally dry brown Canberra. Temperatures remained warm to hot, with a mid February hot spell, which ripened the fruit very quickly. Vintage started 2 weeks earlier than normal on March 1 with Riesling recording 10.5 Be rising to 12 Be on March 23. Cabernet sauvignon was harvested March 20 – 25 with 13.5 to 14.5 Be and wonderful ripe flavours being noted in both varieties.



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