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From the Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association newsletter:By all accounts it hasn’t been an easy vintage, but wine flavours are beginning to emerge and the results are exciting. From the northern end of the valley, Dave Bicknell at De Bortoli reports that the star of vintage 2001 was undoubtedly Cabernet Sauvignon. As is often the case in a hot year, all red varieties performed exceptionally well and are currently rated even higher than 1995. De Bortoli are also very happy with Chardonnay. Other whites are also pleasingùRiesling and Sauvignon Blanc acquire a lot of flavour at low Baumes. De Bortoli were not adversely affected by the rain, finishing harvest on 20 April.Closer to Healesville, Matt Aldridge at Eyton on Yarra reports that the season was characterised by heavy spring rain which made vineyard access difficult and spray application critical. The area then went into a dry period from early January until mid March with some exceptionally hot weather, making irrigation and stress avoidance a priority. Ripening advanced rapidly with the season two weeks ahead of schedule. Eyton’s first grapes were picked on 27 February, their earliest ever vintage. All Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was picked by mid March and Shiraz and Merlot by the end of March. After some March rains, the warm Easter break dried the Cabernet off and the last day of picking was on 18 April, just before the mid April deluge. Aromatic varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are lighter than usual, but clean. All other varieties are shaping up well with outstanding batches of Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Overall fruit quality is the best since 1998.From the southern end of the valley, Seville Estate’s Alistair Butt said that vintage was challenging but rewarding. It was an unusual and early season with picking times largely dictated by impending rain. Good vineyard management paid off. Leaf plucking and fruit exposure were critical in ripening and drying off fruit when warmer weather prevailed. The wet spring last year resulted in good soil moisture and the hot, dry summer raised sugar levels before the rain set in. Chardonnay was harvested before the Pinot Noir and came in at 13.6 Baume, showing good acid and lemony fruit. Pinot Noir ripened to 14.5 Baume with less colour than last year but with heaps of flavour and good balance. The Shiraz has ‘amazing’ colour, and an ideal sugar/pH balance of 14 Baume and 3.5 pH. The last of the Shiraz was picked on 27 April.