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2017. The Gentleman’s vintage – or was it?

May 15, 2017

The Gentlemen’s vintage…or was it?  A cool wet spring and late summer set the tone for vintage 2017.  Soil moisture levels were high leading into summer which let growth in the vines take off, and flowering was marvellous.  During late November 2016, we planted 15,000 chardonnay vines at our 700m high, Little Hampton vineyard in the Macedon Ranges.

Things only started to warm up over Christmas. I recall spending a week in Robe SA, sipping on G&Ts on the beach, it must have been in the high thirties – they were refreshing.  Anyway, that week was the hottest spell we had during the growing season and there were no 40+ degree days, which is perfect for growing flavour.

Mid-February arrived and we were still waiting for grapes. Usually harvest had begun by this time. It was looking to be a spread out Gentlemen’s vintage, with grapes coming in over a long period with no peaks and troughs, no huge days or weeks, due to the cool even ripening of the season.  So what were we to do while we waited?  Go on a study tour of the Apple Island.  So off we went in a pursuit to see vineyards in full growth and broaden our senses to see similarities between the cool climates of Tasmania and our very own Macedon Ranges.  We were surprised to see full veraison in Tassie Pinot Noir vineyards, whilst our Little Hampton Pinot had not quite started.  Macedon was gearing up to be very late.

The Indian summer came in late February and March, which were perfect ripening conditions for our Pinot and Chardonnay from Macedon, which had finished veraison and were starting to develop flavour.  Flavours grew and grew, whilst sugar levels crept up slowly.  The Sunday prior to Easter Sunday, 50 to 100mm of rain fell through the Macedon region, further delaying the season, as we had to wait for soils to dry out.  Then from Easter through to Anzac Day, vintage well and truly hit us.  And it was not very gentlemanly, with big hours and vineyards to be harvested one after the other.  The wine and vineyard crew pushed through, sleeping at the winery for over a week.

Vintage has finally finished with last of the Minnow picked in the first week of May.  Flavours this year are fine, with great acidity producing wines that will build and grow into themselves.  They are wines that demand time and respect to let them build flavour and length.  2017 is a great vintage, look out for them.

Written by Alister Timms, May 2017.