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2015 vintage report for McLaren Vale (South Australia)

McLaren Vale have experienced one of the earliest vintages on record this year, with mild weather playing an important role for the region.
Paul Smith, Wirra Wirra Vineyards senior winemaker, said with only a handful of hot days, the weather allowed natural acids with low PH levels to develop.
“This can often mean wines with good ageing ability,” he said.
With yields falling just below average, Smith said the modest crops provided a strong engine to ripen the fruit.
“The vineyards had good canopies despite the dry season,” Smith said. “This has added to earlier ripening and earlier picking.”
Both Shiraz and Cabernet were looking “very strong”, according to Smith, with both varieties displaying “bright aromatics and lovely weight”.
“There were also some exceptional Grenache parcels,” Smith said. “2015 has been a successful vintage for us. It was early, in fact one of our earliest on record. I haven’t had an Easter off in 20 years, this could be my first!”
Corrina Wright, Oliver’s Taranga winemaker and director, said the speed of this year’s harvest was “unheard of”.
“We finished our 100 hectare within a month, and all over by the first week of March,” Wright said. “The ‘welcome to the region’ barbeque we normally put on as a community to welcome all of the backpackers and internationals working vintage in McLaren Vale, ended up being an ‘end of vintage’ BBQ! We even picked Grenache in March. Crazy.”
Wright said it appeared the overall tonnages in the region were down by 10 to 30 per cent, slightly lower or around par with the low cropping 2014 vintage.
“General word on the street is that supplementary irrigation this year was vital, and was used to record levels,” she said.
Both red and white varieties were looking solid, according to Wright, who said the biggest challenge of the vintage had been perfecting the balance between sugar and tannin ripeness.
“Fitting that in with the logistics of an extremely compressed vintage region-wide was very challenging,” Wright said.