Wow! The 2015 vintage descended on us with unprecedented speed, even though we are becoming used to compacted harvests. This was due to the dry winter and especially dry spring, which combined with well above average temperatures to have the vines growing very rapidly and advanced in their maturity at all stages following budburst. Even so, we were caught by surprise by the speed of the final stages of ripening. The temperature had dropped for the first month of summer and everything had slowed down. Then a very hot first week of January (including a melting 42 degrees on January 2nd) was followed by an unusually cool and cloudy one, along with 46mm of rainfall! This gave the vines a much needed drink, so when the weather turned hot again in February, the grapes ripened very rapidly. It caught everyone by surprise!
We began gathering the crop early, starting on the 12th of February with the Shiraz on the Almond Block and had to hurry to complete picking everything at McLaren Vale (including all the Grenache as well as the Graciano) just five days later on the 17th. That’s still in summer and our earliest finish ever!
Whilst we don’t welcome these increasingly early and compacted harvests because of the difficulties they bring of getting the grapes off at the right moment (all too brief) and the increased work load, there is some cause for optimism when we look at the results from 2015.
The quality of the wine from this vintage, including the 2015 Rosé already released last year and the 2015 Eclipse (included in this current offer) is very high. I’m quite excited by the wines. They offer a lot of flavour along with complexity and refinement. The last two characteristics are less predictable than the first. My concern would be that grapes that ripen this quickly may not possess all of the nuances of flavour that they might otherwise have but I can’t see any of that limitation in tasting the wines. The Eclipse is full bodied and concentrated but balanced and well structured and looks capable of maturing gracefully for many years (although as always with Grenache, its generous nature means that there is no need to wait if you wish to enjoy it in all its youthful glory). It may be the best Eclipse we’ve made. Production is up slightly on last year thanks to a more normal sized Grenache crop in 2015 after the very small 2014 vintage.
In Langhorne Creek things were also moving quickly…at least for the Shiraz. We gave the kids time off school to come with us to harvest the 20 Rows Shiraz in 2 picks on February 27 and March 10, around 2 weeks earlier than normal. It means a 5.30am start and a long day in the vineyard for them but they do a good job and they learn more listening to the back-packers chatter than they would in a week in the school yard! The grapes were in excellent condition but the crop was fairly small.
For some reason the Cabernet took its time to ripen, seemingly unimpressed by all the rush in spite of carrying a terribly small crop (small crops usually ripen earlier!). The Borrett family kindly offered us some extra Cabernet this year from another of their blocks across the road to go along with the Fruit Trees. The crop on the Main Road block was also very small but the 2 blocks combined would give us a reasonable amount of wine. We knew these to be excellent quality grapes and so we gratefully accepted. We harvested the Cabernet in two picks on April 1 and then after Easter on April 10. So we are lucky to have a decent amount of Reserve Cabernet this year despite the tiny yields which prevailed (the Cabernet crop was about 25% of average in 2015) and we’re very happy with the resulting wine.
In terms of style, the 2015 reds are fuller in body and more robust in structure than the 2014s. This is especially true of the Reserve Shiraz and Cabernet. Alcohol levels are 15.5-16.0% but with good balance thanks to excellent natural acidity in the Eclipse and firm tannins in the Shiraz and Cabernet wines. This vintage has produced typically big, flavoursome Noon wines.