An excellent vintage in the Margaret River; South Australia also produced some classic wines
It was a dry, but cool summer for most Australian wine regions prior to the highly rated 1994 vintage. But in the Upper Hunter Valley a couple of weeks of extreme heat before harvest culminated in the worst bushfires for many years, causing many vineyards simply to shut up shop and stop photosynthesis. Generously flavoured, the reds were lower in alcohol than they would otherwise have been. Most South Australian regions experienced perfect Indian Summer-like weather before and during vintage, sometimes cool, always sunny. Tasmania and the cooler Victorian regions tended to have little difficulty fully ripening their crops, the yields of many which were reduced by poor weather after flowering in November/December 1993. Western Australias season was dry and warm to hot, ripening fruit perfectly at Margaret River and the Great Southern.
Unless your favourite Australian red came from a particularly bizarre and unorthodox location, you could virtually assume that its makers delivered the goods in 1994; it was that sort of a vintage. From the restrained and elegant Margaret River cabernets to the Great Southern shirazes, Western Australias best regions made top wines. Similarly, from the richly structured and robust reds from the famous regions to the north and immediate south of Adelaide to the intensely flavoured cabernets and shirazes from Coonawarra and the states southeast, South Australia delivered the goods. Its wines are perhaps a shade finer and more elegant than usual, but theyre built to last. Some first-class pinot noirs were also made from the cooler Victorian regions around Melbourne.
Cullen and Moss Wood (Margaret River), plus Howard Park and Plantagenet (Great Southern) created exemplary cabernets, while Western Australian shiraz of rare distinction also came from Plantagenet (Great Southern) and Cape Mentelle (Margaret River). 1994 was an excellent vintage for Penfolds Grange and a group of other leading South Australian shirazes including Tim Adams Aberfeldy, Henschkes Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, Peter Lehmann Stonewell and Orlando Centenary Hill. Led by wines like Penfolds Bin 707, Primo Estate Joseph Moda Amarone, Henschkes Abbotts Prayer, Katnook Estate Odyssey and Cabernet Sauvignon and Petaluma Coonawarra, the cabernets arent at all far behind. The best Victorian pinot noirs came from Bannockburn (Geelong), Bass Phillip (Gippsland), Coldstream Hills (Yarra Valley) and Massoni (Mornington Peninsula), while Rotherhythe (Tamar Valley) and Domaine A (Coal River Valley) from Tasmania created excellent wines.