Australia’s 2012 vintage is expected to be 4% higher than last year, with unanimous reports of above average quality across most regions and varieties. Expectations are that it will be recognised as a standout vintage.

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia’s annual Vintage Survey estimates the total national crush at 1.66 million tonnes, compared with 1.6 million in 2011. This is close to the latest five-year average of 1.63 million, but well below the peak of 1.93 million in 2005.

The warm inland regions are estimated to have accounted for nearly one million tonnes an increase of 70,000 tonnes (7%) over last year.

Production of red and white wines was just about equal in 2012, and Chardonnay and Shiraz continued the trend of trading the crown for highest individual variety by volume. Shiraz took it back again, but not by much. Pinot Gris/Grigio continued its rapid growth up by around 40%.

The higher crush comes despite many individual regions reporting lower yields. The explanation appears to be that high yield propensity in 2011 primed vines for a level of fruitfulness lower than in 2011, but closer to average.

There was no significant change in bearing area during the year and anecdotal evidence suggests unharvested fruit and production caps were not a factor in determining vintage size.

There was some yield loss at fruit set and localised losses due to rain events occurred in some regions in the eastern states. However, seasonal conditions were generally favourable and ripening conditions were ideal, which was greeted with unbridled delight in many regions.

Consensus is that the quality of the wine produced in 2012 will be high, irrespective of yield size or weather impact. Regional reports collated by Wine Australia include such phrases as “truly special”, “excellent to exceptional”, “one of the strongest on record” and “one of the region’s finest”.

Source: Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, Vintage Report, July 2012

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