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2014 vintage report for McLaren Vale (South Australia)

A wet beginning to the season with an average winter rainfall of 300-350mm did not persist with little rain received after November.
A dry spring ensured the traditional low disease risk in McLaren Vale prevailed yet again.
But the impact of summer was felt in McLaren Vale with two major heatwaves in January testing grapevine tolerance to extreme conditions.
Temperatures in excess of 42C were recorded on five consecutive days with vineyard peak temperatures reaching even higher.
Daily temperatures were 12C or more above the normal average temperature between 13-17 January.
Fruit shrivel and leaf burn in some areas evidenced the effect of the heat, whilst accompanying high winds which exacerbated conditions.
McLaren Vale viticulturist James Hook said relief and challenge came with the major rain event.
“About 40mm fell in 24 hours, raising concerns of fruit splitting. This fear was alleviated as berries took up water but predominantly didn’t split,” he said.
“The water the vines retained had the effect of delaying harvest from the beginning of February to the beginning of March, allowing flavour to balance with sugar ripeness.
“Mild and warm conditions in March accompanied by cool nights resulted in an orderly vintage, with steady and timely intake of ripened fruit.”
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache continued to dominate McLaren Vale production, with interest in Mourvedre growing, whilst a fourfold premium in export per litre price versus the national average reinforced the quality and demand for McLaren Vale wine.
As wineries cleaned up after vintage, feedback suggested some exciting surprises would come out of 2014.