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1997 vintage report for Eden Valley (South Australia)

Stephen Henschke, chairperson of the Eden Valley Winegrowers Association, said Shiraz and Cabernet wines from the region look excellent, with good colour, fine tannins and richly flavoured elegant fruit flavours from a cooler season. ‘This vintage produced stunning Riesling and Chardonnay displaying concentrated fruit and superb length, weight and flavour,’ he said. The 1996-97 grapegrowing season started with good winter rains and cool moderate conditions in spring, leading to excellent growth, good set and vigour. Widespread frost damage in late September reduced yields in low-lying areas. Below average temperatures during early summer were followed by occasional hot periods and thunderstorm activity in mid-summer. Two weeks of intense heat occurred in early February, the hottest period since 1910. Most vineyards escaped heat damage to the fruit due to the later maturity of Eden Valley; however the vines effectively closed down for two weeks, delaying vintage. Rain also occurred, causing some fruit split, however it was a godsend for the old dry-grown vines which were holding out for a much needed drink. Further cool weather delayed ripening. Fortunately this unusual vintage weather was followed by an extended period of dry, warm ‘Indian summer’ conditions which encouraged gradual maturation, withouta the threat of heat or rain. The vintage was later than usual and started in late March. Yields were only average. Dry mild conditions throughout harvest avoided the threat of disease. The ‘Indian summer’ encouraged good development of colour, flavour and sugar levels leading to exceptional fruit quality.