South Africa 2003: Drink soon
Full-bodied, fruity and full of flavour
Despite obvious regional variation, the 2003 harvest was generally long and slow. A chilly spring in most regions saw delayed budding and slow shoot growth, at least in some varieties, and ripening temperatures were generally lower than usual. In Stellenbosch the average temperature for the critical four months Dec-Mar was at least 6°C down on the same period last year. This, combined with the region’s drier summer, resulted in smaller berries with excellent skin to pulp ratios.
Despite the generally cool ripening and harvest temperatures – and a marked lack of rain January to February – above average rainfall occurred towards the end of March in many regions. In Stellenbosch, the rain combined with dewy nights caused Botrytis and rot in some late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. Elsewhere, though, earlier dry weather kept rot and mildew at bay while March rains provided much needed relief plus the extra time needed for grapes to ripen sufficiently on the vine.
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Swartland