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2006 vintage report for McLaren Vale (South Australia)

In terms of overall quality the 2006 vintage was very good, with most whites varieties, Shiraz, Mouvedre, Cabernet and Petit Verdot being the highlights, according to Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg Wines.
A dry winter followed by heavy rains in spring resulted in vines with healthy, balanced canopies on most soils. A mild early summer leading into a warmer period during veraison stopped vegetative growth allowing vines to channel energy into the fruit.
Tim Geddes, winemaker at Wayne Thomas Wines has been impressed with the quality of Cabernet and some parcels of Shiraz which reached flavour ripeness at a lower Baume than usual.
“However, Grenache may have ripened too quickly for optimum flavour development,” Tim said.
David Sanderson of the Hardy Wine Company said fruit quality had been good to exceptional, with low disease incidence and good canopy protection, particularly in whites. He commented that “[While] hot weather caused some stress in late summer, balanced vines had shown the greatest resilience and the highest potential”.
This season was particularly challenging with Downy Mildew primary and secondary events and weather conditions favourable to Powdery Mildew. Despite these challenges the majority of fruit was clean and disease free at harvest, contributing to the overall quality. Botrytis and other bunch rots were not a problem this vintage as no significant rainfall events occurred during the ripening period.
Growers and winemakers are reporting a mixture of tonnages; the majority have observed crops to be 20-30% lower than in 2005, however, others have reported increased fruitfulness, fruit set and bunch weight. It appears cropping levels varied across the region and have possibly been influenced by wetter than usual soil profiles in some areas, pruning and other management practices implemented in response to the changing market demand and the usual seasonal effects.