Vintage is over for another year at Katnook Coonawarra and early reports are that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year. Harvest began early on February 6th and finished late on April 12th. It was drier and warmer than average, with crops down by about a third, due to a spring frost.
Katnook Coonawarra General Manager of Viticulture, Chris Brodie reported this early start to vintage was despite late budburst. He says, “The spring leading up to the 2018 vintage at Katnook Coonawarra was wet, providing good soil moisture which gave the vines an excellent start, with very little early season irrigation required. Temperatures were relatively warm which also encouraged good vine growth, especially in newly planted areas.
A significant late frost in early November caused crop losses throughout Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and Padthaway. Katnook’s crop was subsequently down by around 30%, with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at Founder’s Block level most affected. In mid November, we experienced heavy rainfall of around 75mm in one day but thereafter enjoyed warm, clear conditions for the rest of vintage.
In mid-January, most of southern Australia, including Coonawarra had several days of heatwave conditions, which brought forward the first day of vintage by about 3 weeks to February 6th with Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir for sparkling wine. Harvest continued at an even pace and finished with the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon on April 12th.
In summary, the 2018 season was significantly warmer and drier than usual as seen in the chart below. Grape flavours across all varieties are better than they have ever been, we have some excited winemakers in the region!
|2018 season vs average for past 40 years||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec||Jan||Feb||Mar|
|Rainfall mm ,actual||45||39||59||11||13||6||14|
|Rainfall mm, average||66||48||41||32||26||18||28|
|Temperature degrees C, actual||11.5||14.8||19.4||17.8||21.2||20.9||20.3|
|Temperature degrees C, average||11.7||13.3||15.7||17.5||19.4||19.7||17.6|
Katnook’s Vintage Winemaker, Greg Clayfield with his wealth of winemaking experience has superbly steered our team though Vintage 2018 and will stay with us until Tim Heath starts as Senior Winemaker this June.
Greg reports, “Ideal, even ripening conditions lead to a very controlled harvest and crush schedule, with all varieties picked at optimum maturity. A key factor was the sustained dry season , with neither rainfall nor temperature extremes having any influence.
Flavours are very promising with Riesling and Shiraz the standouts. A significant amount of work was put into smaller scale Shiraz ferments, incorporating hand-picked whole bunches. The subsequent wines will make a significant contribution when the Shiraz blends are finalised.
Cabernet Sauvignon are rich, elegant and distinctly regional. After the very early start in February the last fruit, Cabernet Sauvignon, was picked quite late on April 12th.
The winery is currently pressing the last of the red ferments, racking wines off gross lees, filling off wines into oak, encouraging malo-lactic fermentations and conducting full laboratory analyses on finished wines. A significant contributor to the smooth running of the winery was the input of Jo Ahearn MW in her role as Vintage Winemaker. Jo is a star multi tasker, bringing experience ranging from winemaking in the Barossa Valley to managing a large winery in New South Wales, working in the London Wine Trade through to now operating her own winery and brand in Croatia.
In short, 2018 was a very good Coonawarra vintage here at Katnook.”