2020 Vintage Report – Barossa

Growing season

The growing season rainfall was disappointing to say the least, one of the driest calendar years on record, around 50% down on average rainfall, whatever average is anymore?! We had less than 20mm through October 19 to January 2020, this was quite hard on the vines given the hot late November and December, at least disease pressure was low.

Bunch and berry size was well down due to the lack of water and this had a major effect on crop levels. On the positive side the weather from mid-January onwards was ideal and combined with welcome rain (34mm) on the 1st February provided some optimism for quality. This mild late summer early autumn did allow for nice even ripening so flavours from 2020 are not an issue.

Vintage

The 2020 harvest began on the 14th February with Barossa Pinot Blanc, yes Pinot Blanc, stay tuned. The reds kicked off on the 26th February with Shiraz from the Stansborough vineyard, and the 2020 crush was completed on the 31st March. As always the Aglianico was the last off the vines and into the crusher, it just loves to hang there and wait.

Yields and Quality

Our crop levels were on average well down and the lowest we have seen for many many years. Shiraz was less than 1.5 tonne per/ha, with Aglianico and Grenache not a lot better, the Montepulciano was the yielding star at 6 tonne per/ha.

Our first crack at Pinot Blanc looks promising, hand picked and whole bunch direct to older French oak, loads of fruit and texture, the plan is to bottle late June, stay tuned.

Shiraz, what we have of it, looks pretty slick, good colour, flavour and length with plenty of life. The Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon, all two barrels, looks amazing. Cabernet generally does not normally excel in warm dry conditions, but these super old vines tend to cope with the dry warm condition, it did really benefit from the early February rain and the cool conditions through late January and February. The wine is sitting in barrel and has finished malo, a modest 13.5% Alcohol which is pleasing.

Grenache looks very smart, the warm dry conditions do suit this variety, even though our volumes are small we are confidant we will bottle all three of our Grenache labels, however it is early days! Nice colour, pretty fruit and depth of flavour, always a joy to make this variety.

The three Italian varietals, Montepulciano, Aglianico and NegroAmaro all performed brilliantly, a little like the Grenache these varieties tend to laugh at the hot dry conditions showing they have a very bright future in the Barossa. We did manage to co ferment the NegroAmaro and Montepulciano together in an open fermenter, the synergy this gives is brilliant, exciting for another very smart Colours Of the South Rosso in a few years.

Maybe the highlight of the year is the Montepulciano , great colour, amazing fruit aromas with ripe tannin and great length all with modest alcohol, can’t wait to see this wine develop of the next decade, just need to get it into bottle first. Aglianico is just as exciting, as the vines mature the wines just seem to be gaining more depth and complexity, just wish we had more. Looking forward to blend the Serata, after the success of the 17 & 18 vintages, the 20 vintage should be just as interesting, however volumes will be tiny, common theme with 2020.

Last but not least is Mataro, another variety that needs the warm conditions, this late ripening variety was able to achieve good flavour ripeness and shows typical earth and spice and will work so well with the Grenache and Shiraz that will find its way into the blend.

In summary, the 2020 vintage will be one to remember, no rain, very little fruit, terrible bushfires in the nearby Adelaide Hills topped off by a very nasty virus! However, we got through it and the wines are all pressed out and tucked away in barrel so we can finally sleep at night. Early days but 2020 will prove to be a particularly good year for quality not so good for volume. We will keep you posted.

Cheers
Craig & Mark

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