McLaren Vale | 2003
Windy conditions during flowering and fruit set in the spring of 2002, and the worst drought in over 100 years affected yields, pre-vintage estimates were down by 5% to 20% on an average year. Yields were further affected when rains hit in February causing some smaller berries to split at the collar where they connect to the bunch and then to shrivel, resulting in a reduction of bunch weight of 30% to 60%. These factors combined to reduce yields in some instances by more than 50%. The steady breezes off the Gulf of St Vincent left the vineyards free of powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis. Deep rooted vines, older vines and vines in the eastern end of the region suffered less from the dry conditions. The shrivelling of the split berries and low crops caused baumé levels to rise rapidly in a matter weeks. This drastic increase caused a flurry in the wineries as winemakers tried to find space for all the ripening fruit. A great deal of the fruit was picked at 14.5 baumé and higher and some of the berries dehydrated during vinification causing alcohol levels to reach 17%. Disappointment at the limited quantities was offset by the rich flavour and colour of the wines; the result of ideal ripening conditions from veraison to harvest lead to Mitolo producing their best wines yet.
Barossa Valley | 2003
A dry winter and spring in 2002 caused most varieties to set lower than average crops. Dry and warm to hot weather during December and January promised and delivered an early vintage. However, the dry conditions came to a sudden halt on 19th of February when approximately 70 to 80 millimetres of rain fell in a 24 hour period. Berry splitting was a problem, particularly with old vines that suffered up to 30% damage. Fortunately the following cool, dry and windy weather prevented any humidity so disease was not an issue.Baumé levels rose rapidly after the rain, causing different varieties to reach maturity simultaneously, putting some logistical pressure on picking and winery facilities.
Vignerons and winemakers alike were relieved as it became apparent that the fruit quality was not adversely affected, even though quantity was an average of 20% less than forecast due largely to shrivelling.
Being higher elevation than the Valley floor, the climate is slightly cooler providing wines of elegance and restraint – avoiding jammy, hot overtones. Reiver Shiraz showed good concentration and produced a textured wine. 2003 wines from the Barossa Valley were expected to be of good to excellent quality despite the seasonal challenges.