After a dry start to winter we had good rainfall, ending up 10% above the long term averages, flushing and filling soil profiles to saturation. Although a mid-September bud burst was later than recent vintages it was in line with long term averages. Spring rainfall was well below average, resulting in low disease pressure. Average day and night spring temperatures were close to record highs, resulting in steady vine shoot growth, catching up some ground after the later bud burst. A confined hail event in late October caused very minor damage to our small Kitchen Garden Mataro block but the Davey Estate vineyard was unaffected. Minor pitting of shoots in the Mataro healed quickly with no detriment to quality.
We had 10mm of rain on December 1st and another 15 mm on December 15th, freshening the vines during early berry development. With only 6 mm of rain in January and 5 mm in February summer rainfall ended up only two thirds of the average. Mean maximum and minimum summer temperatures were generally 1 to 2 degrees higher than average. The second half of January saw a record 13 consecutive days above 30 degrees Celsius resulting in a mean January temperature of 23.1 degrees Celsius. Drier and warmer than average conditions continued through March and April resulting in a disease free and orderly progression to vintage, allowing time for the potential of each batch of grapes to be maximised in the winery.
Harvest started with Semillon on February 6th and our McLaren Vale white and rosé blocks were all off by February 19th when the first Davey Estate Shiraz was picked. Shiraz harvest, other than a small parcel for fortified, was completed on March 24th and Cabernet Sauvignon soon after on March 29th, just before Easter. Mataro, the last of the Grenache and Shiraz for fortification were harvested after Easter with all fruit in by April 5th.
The 2018 white and rosé wines are richly flavoured with good length. The reds are full bodied and deeply coloured, showing intense fruit flavour with big round chewy tannins. Simply an outstanding vintage with the promise to be rated as one of the great years for McLaren Vale.