A curate’s egg: less than laudable, tiny vintage, but some stellar stuff
A curate’s egg of a vintage – though a few regions on the viticultural edges of this vast continent enjoyed excellent conditions, 2000 will be remembered generally for reduced yields and variable quality resulting from a cold spring, very hot summer and no rain to speak of throughout key production regions, most notably South Australia. The main problem was poor fruit set, resulting in yields down by anything from 30 to 60 per cent for some producers. All this was then compounded by heavy rains in February, causing some grapes to split. So all in all, a ‘challenging’ year, as the winemakers drily put it.
Australia being the size it is and with far more geographical and climatic diversity than many outsiders give it credit for, it would be a black year indeed for no one to enjoy a good vintage. 2000 was no exception. The Hunter Valley, renowned for getting regular soakings at vintage time, basked in unseasonably ideal conditions and produced some exceptionally fine reds as a result. Margaret River was another winner, with good rains and warm weather at all the right times, as were the regions on the southern fringes of Victoria and Tasmania.
One should never write off an entire region or its every producer even in a less than universally lauded year like 2000. Quantities may have been tiny, but the smaller, premium quality estates will always produce some stellar stuff. So, for example, in Clare, Barossa and McLaren Vale seek out makers like Wendouree, Rockford and Fox Creek. From Coonawarra, Majella, Zema Estate and Rouge Homme are looking bright and promising. In the regions where conditions were easier – even excellent – like Margaret River and the Hunter, 2000 is a vintage to enjoy more widely; seek out the boutiques by all means, but here the big names and brands are shining, too.