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The 2014 vintage according to Bruce Tyrrell
This vintage was the result of a long, dry winter and summer. We received 25 mm of rain from the beginning of June to the beginning of September, followed by 150 mm in November (none of which ran off) and about 12 mm during vintage itself. A big difference from 300 mm during vintage last year and the year before. The dry conditions brought about an early start to harvest and just like in 2013 we had pretty much picked all the chardonnay before we started the Semillon.
This will be a great year for Chardonnay; lots of flavour, good acid and robust structures. Semillon was the most difficult to handle this year as the sugars were rising quickly and the flavours were not following. It required a great deal of patience to wait until the Semillons were flavour ripe as well as sugar ripe, and often the window of opportunity to pick was only a day or two, so we had to monitor things carefully. In the end though, I am very pleased with the overall quality of all of this year’s whites and as always, the great vineyards shine through. The semillons will be very good drinking as young wines but the best of them will have plenty of acid and structure for a long life.
On the red side of things, our Hunter shiraz is looking fantastic - reminiscent of years like 1973 and 1985, or even the great 1965 vintage. Higher alcohols, but intense colours and good flavour at this stage. Watch this space for a great shiraz vintage. The pinot noir, which was all picked in January, is now in oak and is definitely the best we have made since 2009, so it’s looking like we’ll have a Vat 6 this year.
Heathcote has had temperatures of over 40ºc almost every day this year. Thankfully, we built an extra storage dam about four years ago on the property and so have had enough water to keep the vines alive and healthy. A number of our neighbours who lack irrigation have no leaves or fruit left on their vines, so we are very thankful. We should start picking there around the beginning of March.
M. Bruce Tyrrell, A.M.