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Vintage 2006 in Victorias Yarra Valley was one of the earliest on record, commencing in early February, some three weeks ahead of schedule. For the first time in living memory, vintage was complete well before Easter, allowing winemakers to enjoy the break.
The early onset was due to a warm spring, followed by unusually high summer temperatures. Several days of above 40°C were recorded in early summer before settling to more moderate, yet still higher than average levels in February and March.
An excellent growing season led to even flowering and fruit set across all varieties, including Merlot. Denser canopies gave some protection from sunburn in the hot spells.
Ripe fruit flavours meant many wineries harvested as early as possible to retain natural acid structure.
Crop levels were low to moderate, since most growers adjusted crops early in the quest for flavour balance and fruit quality.
In summary, 2006 is shaping up to be a very good vintage across all varieties. It is not dissimilar to the 2003 vintage, in which no particular variety stood out but all performed well across the board.