Well, Vintage 2018 is well and truly done and dusted. The grapes have been brought into the winery, crushed and are fermenting into wonderful wines stamped with a great vintage year – Western Australia experienced one of the best vintage seasons in recent history. In this blog post, co-owner Viv Snowden and winemaker Coby Ladwig reveal the insights about this harvest and the quality of the fruit.
How did harvest dates compare to previous vintages?
In regards to the Chardonnay fruit, it was all harvested by the end of March, which is about one week later than average – the delay was to take advantage of a week of warm weather for continued flavour development in the grapes. Pinot Noir was hand harvested on 19 March – and this fruit represents our very first vintage of estate-grown Pinot Noir.
How did the inaugural Pinot Noir harvest from the home vineyard look?
The geese were the first to notice veraison (fruit ripening) and we were on the back foot placing nets on the vines before they had taken their samples! Next year, we’ll fence off the area, as the young vines are easy prey for the now-wise gaggle. Our hand pick was most satisfying, as the fruit was well ripened. Now, we wait in anticipation for our first vintage.
How did the weather impact the 2018 fruit quality?
Warm, relatively dry conditions allowed for steady growth, good health and even ripening during the season without any weather-related setbacks. Fruit quality was very good and timely vineyard management protected it from any potential wind, insect or bird damage.
How do the Chardonnays look?
All the 2018 Chardonnay fruit is displaying exceptional flavour, with nectarine and peach flavours and really good barrel characters peeking out from the background already. Our Denmark Chardonnay is showing its beautiful typical level of natural acidity to balance the rich flavours.
Which variety was the most exciting to come into the winery?
We were all incredibly happy to see the first estate-grown Denmark Pinot Noir. This is Phil’s (Snowden) special block. The pressure he puts on himself to produce seriously good Pinot grapes is very high. The good news is that Phil can breathe a sigh of relief because the first official harvest has resulted in a very good-looking Pinot Noir.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Frankland River vineyard are also looking incredible. The colour is amazing and the depth of flavour and already fine tannins are very exciting. This is going to be one of the best vintages in a very long time.
Are there any particular varieties to watch out for in the 2018 releases?
The 2018 vintage is one of the best Western Australia has seen in many years. I started winemaking in 2002 and the 2018 vintage has been the best I have been involved in so far. In particular, the reds are outstanding. The whites have been consistently good over many years and we’ve seen very high-quality white grapes this year, too. The quality of the 2018 reds seems to have set a new benchmark this vintage.