Winemakers from Western Australia’s Margaret River region are predicting an exceptional 2015 vintage on the back of lower volumes.
Harvesting began for a number of chardonnay crops last week with table wines and sparkling wines also starting to be picked.
AHA Viticulture’s Colin Bell said early indications were that crop volumes would be “slightly” below average.
“Certainly for growers, they like to get their target yields but for the quality of wine, it’s probably going to be an exceptional vintage on the back of it,” he said.
Mr Bell said cooler and windier conditions in November were possibly to blame for lower yields, as they would have affected flowering.
‘Lovely composition of fruit and flavours’
Winemaker Bruce Dukes has begun picking grapes in the Margaret River sub-region of Wilyabrup.
He said it was difficult to estimate the drop in volume at this early stage but believed yields could be 15 to 20 per cent lower than normal.
For the chardonnay wines that we’re seeing at the moment, the quality of the juice, the fruit is up there with the best I’ve ever seen so we’re very optimistic.Bruce Dukes
“We’ve got lovely composition of fruit and flavours for winemaking [which] is the benefit of some low crop fields,” Mr Dukes said.
“Of course everyone growing grapes wishes that crop loads could’ve been a fraction higher.”
He believed this year’s grapes would make some “truly lovely” wines.
“For the chardonnay wines that we’re seeing at the moment, the quality of the juice [and] the fruit is up there with the best I’ve ever seen so we’re very optimistic,” Mr Dukes said.
He said his vintage began early, as lower crop loads meant the fruit ripened faster than normal.
Mr Bell agreed harvest seemed slightly early.
“It’s not often we pick grapes in January even though it [was] the last few days,” he said.
“The last eight years have been quite warm but I do feel like this is almost an early start.”
First drop available in spring
As for how long wine lovers have to wait until their first drop of 2015, Mr Bell said it was a matter of months.
“The earliest releases are generally the Bordeaux whites … normally they coincide with a spring release,” he said.
Mr Dukes said there could be some indications sooner.
“Usually by mid-winter we’ll have a very good idea of the personality of the wines,” he said.
The Margaret River region has a long vintage with cabernet being harvested up to mid-to-late-April.