Thursday, October 29, 2009

Barossa 2009 Vintage Shaping up to be a Cracker

Red and I returned from the Barossa Valley last week, having visited several small wineries. The most interesting point that we took from the trip was how good the 2009 vintage is shaping. Though I tend to take positive talk of the next vintage with a grain of salt, the universal, unprompted consensus was that 2009 will be a cracker made me sit up and take notice. From our discussions with wine makers, 2009 will be great for a number of reasons:

Firstly, the heatwave that struck Adelaide and SA in Janurary was before veraison. With the multiple microclimates in the Barossa, vineyards carefully seected in prime areas were completely unaffected. Secondly, a few journalists had gone to the Mclarenvale (not established wine journos) and went door knocking to find a hard-luck story. Noting that the Mclarenvale did it tougher than the Barossa, one hard luck story was found, and the 2009 vintage was given a bad name as a result. Thirdly, the 2-3 months following the heatwave had moderate weather, perfect for even ripening of fruit. Add this to the fact the vintage was looking good pre-heatwave and the Barossa has reason to be excited. Whether the potential greatness of 2009 is firmly in the minds of wine writers and drinkers is debatable.

The barrel tastings we did last week confirmed all of the above. I do not think I have seen such a lovely glowing purple / garnet colour to the wines in glass for a long time - especially the wines from Sons of Eden. Aside from the brilliant, glowing colour, the fruit was not too sweet, no traces of dead fruit, and lots of juiciness married with taut acidity.When blended, and with more time in oak to mature, these wines appear to me to be able to challenge, or be on a par with the great 2004, 2002 and 1998 vintages in the Barossa. Time will tell.

One thing is for sure - the tastings of many 2007 and 2008 wines (two very difficult vintages for the Barossa and for most of the Southeast of Australia) revealed that even in suboptimal vintages, the right wine maker can fashion elegant, long living and lively wines. Imagine what they will do with the 2009 fruit.

Many thanks to Dan Standish, Susan and Michael Papps, Sabine Deisen, Simon Cowham, the Rohrlach family, Greg Hobbs, Kalleske and Kym Teusner.

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