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A dry winter and spring in 2002 caused most varieties to set lower than average crops. Dry and warm to hot weather during December and January promised and delivered an early vintage. However, the dry conditions came to a sudden halt on 19 February when the Heavens opened—and approximately 70 to 80mm of rain fell in a 24 hour period.
Berry splitting was a problem, particularly with old vines which suffered up to 30% damage. The following cool, dry and windy weather prevented any humidity so disease was not a problem. Baume levels bounced back after the rain causing different varieties to reach maturity simultaneously, putting pressure on picking and winery facilities. After a big scare, grapegrowers and winemakers breathed a collective sigh of relief as quality was not affected, even though quantity was certainly down on forecasts (20% on average) due to shrivelling.
Preliminary assessments suggest that Barossa Shiraz will be big, concentrated, textured wines while Semillon will also be rich and full bodied.
Eden Valley Riesling shows excellent flavour and palate weight with naturally high acidity—with forecasts that 2003 will rival the great Riesling vintage of 2002.
Eden Valley Chardonnay and Semillon also performed well with long elegant flavours and good depth, while Eden Valley reds have great colour and concentration, with fine tannins and acidity. Wines from 2003 in the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley are expected to be of good to excellent quality despite the seasonal challenges.