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Australia 2010 favoured by cooler weather

Rain and cool weather have favoured the 2010 vintage in Australia – in contrast to the heat and fire of last year.

From Western Australia to the eastern states, yields are reported to be lower than 2008 and 09, mainly due to a heat wave during flowering in November which affected some varieties including Chardonnay and Grenache.

Louise Rose, head winemaker at Yalumba in the Barossa Valley said quantity was down but not excessively so, and the quality of the wines looked ‘extremely strong across the board’ in all regions.

‘Standouts include Eden Valley Riesling and Barossa Shiraz. We had the best rains in the Barossa for five years, filling up the soils and setting up the vines for the coming season.’

Winemakers are reporting excellent quality in all varietals. ‘All the crops appear balanced and the red varieties are hugely exciting,’ according to Chester Osborn at d’Arenberg, in McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills.

‘The skins are very thick and dark with a good level of tannin. Early picked Shiraz is peppery with elegance and lots of length. Cabernet shows outstanding varietal character and tannin and, despite low crop levels, Grenache is strong with loose clusters producing dark, concentrated wines with nearly all berries being shrivel free.’

In some areas in South East Australia, warmer temperatures in November 2009 were common, affecting flowering and early fruit setting of later bearing varieties.

But for Wendy Cameron at Brown Brothers in Victoria, this wasn’t really an issue as the vines ‘were at a less vulnerable stage’ and overall the vintage had been ‘relatively mild’.

This, she said, was good for acid development in grapes for sparkling wine – and in the Cabernet they managed to achieve ripeness without high sugar.

Even some rain during the vintage didn’t hurt as ‘the land soaked up water like a sponge’.

‘This year we’ve seen slower, steady ripening. It’s been much more controlled and regular – a bit like 2005.’

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Written by Patricia Langton

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