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2001 vintage report for Riverina (New South Wales)

2001 Riverina wine grape production is estimated to be 159,000 tonnes, a 3% decrease from last year’s 164,000 tonnes and well below the pre-vintage forecast of 178,000 tonnes. The decrease in total tonnage was due to a dry December, which affected berry enlargement. This has, however, been beneficial to red wine quality, especially Shiraz which with 37,235 tonnes has now emphatically surpassed Semillon as the region’s predominant variety.Stuart McGrath-Kerr, secretary of the Riverina Winemakers’ Association, said the growing season was relatively consistent through to January with no significant damage from frost or hail. But a prolonged hot and humid period in late January and early February affected ripening. Vintage was earlier than usual reflecting the lighter than average crop. Some wineries recorded grape deliveries as early as 29 January. The rain and hot weather in February affected the ripening of the whites and there was some breakdown of Semillon. The remainder of February and the first week in March saw warm weather persisting and virtually no rainfall, allowing the remaining white and a large proportion of the red varieties to be harvested, crushed and processed without interruption. Despite the early rain, the remainder of the season was relatively warm and dry, giving good conditions for the harvesting of Shiraz in particular. Rains in late March delayed vintage for a few days, but this did not cause any significant damage to the crop. There were no frosts recorded in the Riverina until early June, causing leaf drop to lag. This affects the carbohydrate load for the following year. Combined with the dry start to the winter period, and predicted dry remainder, the 2002 vintage is looking to be larger than 2001. This year’s vintage saw significant increases in new varieties such as the Spanish Tempranillo, Durif from the Rh(ne Valley and Zinfandel from Italy, as well as experimental plantings of other Italian varieties such as Sangiovese. Tyrian รป the result of CSIRO’s plant breeding trials — has proved to be a successful variety over the past few years, withstanding inclement weather to produce award winning wines. The total production of blend varieties and multipurpose grapes has declined as wineries demand high quality varietals (specialist grapes) such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Durif and Marsanne. Overall the Riverina is maintaining the required production of premium varietal wine grapes.Major production included (figures are in tonnes):2001 Shiraz – 37,235Semillon – 32,434 Chardonnay – 21,226 Cabernet Sauvignon -12,708Merlot – 7,6702000Shiraz – 36,507 Semillon – 35,956 Chardonnay – 21,578Cabernet Sauvignon – 10,787Merlot – 7,4461999Shiraz – 30,730Semillon – 37,615Chardonnay – 21,223Cabernet Sauvignon – 9,088Merlot – 6,525