Coonawarra, South Australia | Australian wine at it's best
Coonawarra Wine, Australia
1999-1995 Vintage Reports
1999 Coonawarra Vintage Report
Vintage commenced early for Coonawarra with sparkling bases being picked from 2 March 1999.Yields were down 20% from 1998 and 15% on the average yield.The reasons for the decrease in yield were: a frost in late October, windy conditions during flowering, stress during fruit set, stress in January-February and below average rainfall over the ripening period.

The weather during vintage was clear and dry from March through to early May.The weather conditions reduced considerably the threat of disease in Coonawarra in the 1998/99 growing, maturing and harvest periods. The below average temperatures early and late in the season, high January and February temperatures, below average rainfall in the ripening and vintage periods reduced the pressure from disease threat.

In terms of effect of weather on the quality of the grapes the long, cool ripening period has provided excellent conditions for flavour and colour enhancement.

The 1999 reds are above average. They had intense colour and flavour on the vine and in the juice due to the small berry size, wonderful pH and acid balance. There is an expectation for slightly higher than average alcohol due the marvellous ripening conditions experienced. This will be an outstanding Coonawarra vintage.

The whites from 1999 have shown excellent varietal definition with full flavour and great acid balance. The expectation is that the whites will provide average to above average quality wines.

The 1999 Vintage is characterised as a trouble-free vintage where the lower than average yields were compensated by outstanding fruit quality.
1998 Coonawarra Vintage Report
The 1998 vintage was characterised by almost perfect ripening conditions, above average crops and healthy, well structured deeply coloured and flavoured fruit.

Late winter and early spring rains ensured there was plenty of moisture in the soil for the growing season. A frost at the very beginning of spring had some producers worried, however damage was negligible. Budburst and early spring growth was even, with very few pest or disease problems. Flowering and fruit set began in late November and continues into December amid calm and mild weather. The conditions during this period assured, very good fruit set in all varieties.

The summer growing and ripening period was close to ideal, with very little rain and without any extremes of temperature, thus ensuring a long even and slow maturation of the fruit. Late summer and early autumn were dry and mild, enabling fruit to reach optimum maturity.

Harvesting began in mid-March. This was approximately a week and a half to three weeks earlier than the 1997 and 1996 vintages. The harvest period was fine until mid April when 18mm of rain fell. Towards the end of April another 25mm of rain fell, however, by this stage the majority of fruit had already been picked.  The interesting aspect of this rainfall was that on both occasions it fell rapidly, with sunny, drying conditions following immediately. Therefore, the two main rain periods had very little impact on fruit quality from either a disease or fruit maturity perspective.

The quantities of grapes harvested tended to be slightly above average, though some growers reported yields up to 25% above average in certain varieties. The levels of maturity reported also tended to be above average, that is physiological ripeness tended to be achieved at generally higher than average sugar levels. Harvesting concluded in April.

The wines produced from the 1998 vintage were, by consensus of all Coonawarra winemakers, of very good to exceptional quality across all varieties. The reds produced have exhibited extremely deep colours, good structure and big, rich layers of flavour.  The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot wines produced are of excellent quality while Shiraz is also extremely good. The white wines are also of very high quality with Riesling and Chardonnay being outstanding.

In summary, the wine producers of Coonawarra have experienced another fine vintage, with good volumes of very high quality wine to help fill the growing world demand for their product.
1997 Coonawarra Vintage Report
Conditions during the 1996/97 growing season were characterised by lower than average rainfall in summer and autumn and above average temperatures in the last two months of summer. Early season frost caused some minor damage to some of the early shooting varieties and was also believed to have played some part in the poor flowering of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Drier conditions during the growing season resulted in very low disease incidence but did impact on fruit set. The very hot days in January and February actually caused a delay in ripening but the drier weather in April ensured maturity levels were good with minimal Botrytis problems.
"Low yields and excellent quality" would summarise the 1997 vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon yields were down on average by as much as 30%. Chardonnay yields were also significantly below average.
The below average yields were compensated to some degree by excellent varietal flavours and deep colours. Overall the winemakers' reactions to the 1997 vintage were very positive with whites described as very good and reds as excellent. The 1997 vintage produced wines of very high quality but in a diversity of styles.
1996 Coonawarra Vintage Notes
"Excellent quality reds and whites have been produced form the 1996 vintage", is the consensus of winemakers following the annual post vintage tasting in June. The extended cool dry autumn weather provided very good varietal definition and allowed fruit to be fully ripened both in flavour and sugar, with all reds having intense colour and good tannin structure.

Red Wines are generally of a very high quality with deep vibrant colours. The bouquet is complex and varietal ie. spicy Shiraz pepper, berry ribena Cabernet, plum Merlot (no green stalk of leafy characters). The palate is sweet fruit, rich varietal, intense and long which is the hallmark of Coonawarra.

Conditions during the 1996 growing season closely approximated the long term averages for the region. The main variations being, an unusually dry spring and autumn (less than 50% of average for both periods). The only month cooler than average was April, with May being warmer and cloud cover over the season higher than average.
1995 Coonawarra Vintage Report
A very dry winter preceded a frosty spring period with a warm dry summer. Fruit set was quite variable with most varieties, principally due to the dry conditions; however, higher than average bunch numbers ensured near to above average crops.

In late February an early vintage looked likely until a cool change in the first week of March, which stayed for the remainder of vintage. The cooler conditions favoured the earlier picked varieties but had a variable effect on the fruit harvested later in vintage. The slow ripening was further hindered by rain in April and May.

At the Coonawarra post vintage tasting in May, the white varietals were considered to be of good to very good quality and the red varieties of variable quality ranging from average to very good.

Riesling: Early harvested Riesling had slightly herbaceous characters. Attractive lemony flavours in mid season fruit. Some later picked Riesling had marmalade characters from some Botrytis.

Chardonnay: Quality of Chardonnay was average to above average with a good range of flavours being apparent within different winemaking styles.

Sauvignon Blanc: Generally good varietal flavour tending towards more herbaceousness early, but expected to show riper characteristics with time in the bottle.

Shiraz: Although the best of the Shiraz is intense, overall quality is leaner than in the previous couple of years, reflecting difficult ripening conditions and lower than average beaumes.

Cabernet Sauvignon: The most resilient of varieties. Generally Cabernet has strong tannins with a tight fruit structure. Most wines have avoided the herbaceous fruit characters associated with other cooler years. The best of the wines are very strong.

Cabernet Franc: Good full fruit flavours showing substantial individual block variation.

Merlot: Some very good wines ranging from slightly herbaceous to full rich berry flavours.

Pinot Noir: Quality is similar to wines produced in 1992, with attractive cherry flavours.