2018 vintage Purple Hands Wines report for Barossa – 21st May

Growing season: The growing season started full of promise with above average winter rainfall filling soil profiles, however the spring and summer months rainfall were well below average with only 63% of the average rainfall recorded.
With these dry conditions disease pressure was very low. Temperatures for the growing season were generally 1°C above the long-term average, significantly 18 days above 35°C for January and February did have us all a bit nervous about potential quality. These increased temperatures did cause some sunburn on exposed fruit at veraison and did have some effect on bunch weights with most crop levels down on average, most of this sunburnt fruit had shrivelled by harvest time. The positive with these warm dry conditions was early seed lignification and berry flavour development allowing a relatively orderly harvest for red production.
Vintage: The 2018 harvest began early, the 20th February with Shiraz of the Stansborough vineyard; the 2018 crush was completed on the 12th April with the Stevens Mataro.
Yields and quality: Our crop levels were on average well down, particularly reds from the Stansborough vineyard, Shiraz and Aglianico vineyard yielding 3.5 tonne per/ha, the Montepulciano faired a little better at 6 tonne per/ha with Grenache & Mataro at similar levels.
The wines look very very promising. Shiraz which benefited from the ideal spring growing conditions and dry summer period gave good fruit condition and relatively small berries, early lignification allowed us to pick on flavour without waiting or worrying about high sugar levels. The colour intensity, depth, flavour and plush mouthfeel is very impressive even at this early stage. The ancestor vine Cabernet again looks amazing, quite surprising given the conditions. Cabernet generally does not normally excel in warm dry conditions, but this vineyard seems to perform no matter what mother nature throws at it, great colour, fruit definition and very good structure. Grenache looks fantastic. The warm dry conditions are perfect for this variety, both the After Five Wine Co. and Purple Hands Grenache look brilliant at this early stage. On writing this report both have finished malo and are sulphured back on the lees. The colour, tannin and depth of flavour have potential to be the best we have made. The same could be said for the two Italian varietals, Montepulciano and Aglianico. This will be the fifth harvest from these vines and the vine maturity is showing in the wines. The colour, depth and varietal definition has us very excited. Can’t wait to blend the Serata, as well as getting these single varietals into bottle. For the second year we made a small amount of NegroAmaro, watch out for something exciting later in the year. Mataro is another variety that loved the weather conditions, this generally late ripening variety was able to achieve very good phenolic ripeness, not always achieved in this variety, this has allowed some longer maceration on skins, and at time of writing this report we still have some of the Stevens Mataro on skins.
In summary, the 2018 vintage is proving to be a very good to exceptional year for both the Barossa Valley and Purple Hands Wines. A year where the reds show great promise and look to have ability to be enjoyed young but also potential to be quite age worthy.

Craig Stansborough
Purple Hands Wines

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