A good to very good quality harvest.
In summary: A very hot, dry summer. Early start to harvest. Some berry shrivel in all varieties due to intense summer heat. Very small Solaire production. No Reserve Cabernet produced. A very rich, ripe Eclipse and Reserve Shiraz. Two cleanskin reds produced.
The season began well with good spring rains that tapered off in time for an excellent flowering in November. Then the heat arrived and boy was it a long, hot summer! After a sweltering start in December, it just kept getting hotter, with the Bureau recording 17 days in a row exceeding 35°C in January (a record) and February offering no respite.
On top of this it didn’t rain for basically the whole summer until a refreshing 15mm fell on the 13th of February. The grapes were ripening quickly under these conditions and we hurried to prepare our fermenting vats for another early start to the harvest (2000 was early too!).
The vineyards were standing up to the conditions remarkably well with some berry shrivel but good leaf condition. There was very little fungus disease around of course. The Shiraz was the first block to be harvested at around the end of the summer heat on March 9th, almost two weeks ahead of usual. The fruit looked terrific, with small berries and good ripeness. The wine is dark and powerful, as you might expect.
Then the temperatures moderated considerably from mid March and we even had some rainfalls from 16th to 26th March. The real heat was finally behind us and I think we were all grateful for that. Harvesting continued in much milder conditions on 17th and 18th March for Grenache for Eclipse, then the Cabernet on 6th April and finally a very small amount of Grenache off the Winery East block for Solaire and V.P. on April 16th. There were parts of all blocks that did not produce the heavier premium reds this year and were put together to produce our House Red cleanskin blend.
We had a second cleanskin available this release, a cleanskin Cabernet. The Cabernet vineyard produced its biggest crop ever for the 2001 harvest and although the grapes were in good condition and attained a good level of ripeness we would have liked the resulting wine to have a fraction more intensity for it to be labelled Reserve Cabernet. Therefore we decided to bottle and sell the Cabernet as a cleanskin. We regretted not being able to offer a 2001 Reserve Cabernet but as a friend said “quality always gets priority”.
So there you have it. A good to very good vintage overall after an amazingly hot summer that has produced wines of high natural alcohol levels, with a lovely softness of structure and the ability to be enjoyed early in their life or cellared.
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