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1997 vintage report for Riverland (South Australia)

Vintage in the Riverland region started in the second week of February, which was normal. Yield was down 25-35% on whites but was average for reds. Bill Moularadellis, president of the Riverland Winemakers Association, said whites suffered a decrease as a result of frost damage and a crop downturn after record 1996 levels. Reds, due to later budburst, suffered less damage. Heavy rain in February created apprehension, and hot weather in early March affected ripening, with young vines carrying heavy crops worst affected. There were some isolated powdery mildew outbreaks, but relatively few problems. Bill Moularadellis said the 1997 vintage reds were sound, being slightly leaner and elegantly structured with good colours. ‘Later made wines display better fruit characters, particularly in Cabernet Sauvignon. Ruby Cabernets are again very good wines,’ he said. Some early whites affected by the heat lacked in overall balance and finesse. However, the fruit for full-bodied styles reached good maturity levels, resulting in wines which were rich, warm and round.’ Considering the problems encountered during the growing and ripening period, production and quality levels were good,’ Bill said. ‘We will be looking for higher quality standards as suppliers adopt advanced technology in respect to vineyard management practices. Overall the reds and whites from the 1997 vintage were acceptably good quality without major defects and would rate as a 7 out of 10 vintage.’