Good quality overall, 2014 has produced a typically robust Eclipse but more gentle and refined Reserve Shiraz and Cabernet. Quantity down at McLaren Vale (Eclipse) but up slightly at Langhorne Creek (Reserve Shiraz and Cabernet).
The detail: This year the harvest took place over an extended period due to an early start at McLaren Vale and a late finish at Langhorne Creek.
McLaren Vale was early due to the small crops and warm summer, bringing the Grenache to maturity in the first few days of March, around 10 days ahead of average.
The winter was nice and wet but with warm nights leading to a lower level of dormancy in the vines and an early bud break. September was very warm and dry from the outset, getting the growing season off to a fast start with rapid vine growth.
I went to Canada (Toronto) in November to present the 2002 Reserve Cabernet, 2001 Reserve Shiraz and 2002 Eclipse to a large table of dinner guests at an annual event known as the Stonefield's Charity Dinner. I met some lovely people there and shared some amazing wines which made it an experience never to be forgotten. I returned home to the surprisingly mild temperatures which prevailed here in late spring.
As a result, the vines continued their luxuriant growth and the large leafy canopies and cool, windy weather of November resulted in a poor fruit set and small Grenache crop.
The summer then slowly turned hot, with a 41 degree day on 19 December ending our concerns about a small downy mildew outbreak at the same time as leading to significant crop loss in the Graciano through sunburnt fruit. How quickly things can change!
A heat wave in the middle of January and a very hot start to February had the vines searching deep for survival before rain on the 14th of February heralded a much more equable period of weather for the harvest and provided just the drink they needed to ripen the crop.
We picked the Shiraz on the Almond Block (for Eclipse) on the 17th of February and then the Grenache crop in just 2 days - the Winery Block on Tuesday 4 and BJs block on Friday 7 March (along with the Graciano).
With the crop being small, the wine is concentrated and this vintage has produced a particularly expressive, full bodied Eclipse.
By contrast the ripening at Langhorne Creek proceeded slowly. The weather was similar to McLaren Vale but the larger crops combined with the February rain and cooler conditions which followed pushed the harvest date out here well into autumn and later than average. We harvested the Shiraz from the 20 Rows block in 2 picks on 26 and 27 March, then waited with the support of our patient growers the Borretts almost 4 weeks for the Cabernet until gathering it on the 22nd of April.
Indi and Harper have now reached an age where they are keen and able to help with the harvest. Indi is now taller than Rae and both children were of great assistance in pressing the last of the Cabernet vats with us, so the end to vintage 2014 was a family affair.
I think the slow ripening at Langhorne Creek has led to good development of flavour in both of these wines, which possess a gentleness combined with a purity which is very attractive.
We hope you will enjoy the 2014 reds!
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