Author: Eddie McDougall Date Posted: 26 August 2019
As we are about to release our next vintage of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco into the world we felt it was time to share some interesting statistics, updates and our views on the 2019 growing season in the King Valley.
The King Valley is a premium cool climate region which represents less than 1% of Australia’s total wine production in 2019. According to Wine Australia’s National Vintage Report 2019, the King Valley crushed 14,637 tonnes of grapes, of which our production contributed 25.6 tonnes of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. So one can only appreciate our boutique scale as we represent only 0.17% of the King Valley’s output.
This year, we are excited to welcome Chrismont Vineyards as our new Pinot Grigio and Prosecco grower in the King Valley. With our wines from this area ever growing in demand across both Australia and Asia, we felt it was time to increase our fruit access to support our customer’s demands. After having already made one vintage off this vineyard we are really excited about our future relationship with this grower. The site produces grapes grown at an altitude of 300m, which also provides a unique microclimate, that creates wonderfully diverse flavours as a result. The most critical climatic factor we look for when selecting our vineyards for top quality Prosecco and Pinot Grigio is a wide diurnal range; warm sunny days (>25°C) and very cool nights (<10°C). This vineyard is planted on red-clay over broken granite and consists of a mix of young and established vines offering bright and aromatic fruit with pleasant minerality on the palate.
The growing season started well with plenty of beneficial winter rains. It was magnificent to see the region so green and lush at the start of budburst. When the first shoots started to extend and fill the base of the cordons, we knew we were in for a good fruit set provided the spring frosts remained absent. Fortunately for this particular vineyard, there’s plenty of airflow that circulates the warmer air through the valley that prevents below zero frost snaps. The season progressed well into December before we started to notice the heat levels increase dramatically. Compared to our South Australian counterparts, we didn’t quite experience the heat waves they did of over 40°C but we felt the bite with regular high 30s. With plenty of good rainfall throughout winter and spring, along with some timely irrigation applications, we managed to keep the canopies healthy and productive. A positive attribute to warm dry vintages is that there’s no need to fight disease or rots in the vineyard but we were more worried about our grapes getting too ripe too quickly. This would mean poor flavour development. With the warm weather continuing on throughout the months of January and February we knew that harvest was just around the corner for both our Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. In previous years, we’ve picked our Prosecco two weeks prior to the Pinot Grigio, however, this year they were only 5 days apart. Prosecco was harvested on the 28th February and Pinot Grigio on the 5th March. This year’s vintage was fast and intense.
Overall, we were very happy with the fruit quality received at the crusher. No disease, full ripeness and generous flavours meant we were in for a good start to the winemaking side of things. The only aspect to this vintage I wish I could control would be the ripening speed of the Pinot Grigio; this warm year has slightly altered our house style from light and crispy to something a little more plush, round and higher in alcohol. I guess that’s what we call vintage variation and expression.