McLaren Vale | 2006
A dry winter, followed by heavy rains in spring, resulted in vines with healthy, balanced canopies on moist soils. A mild, early summer leading into a warmer period during veraison stopped vegetative growth, allowing vines to channel energy into the fruit. The cooler conditions following veraison were ideal for whites ensuring they had good canopy cover right through to harvest.
The two days of warmer conditions saw a rapid jump in Baume for the red varieties. Reds picked at this time were very fragrant with good acidity and length. Some parcels of Shiraz reached flavour ripeness at a lower Baume than usual but still showed excellent quality. Grenache ripened much faster than normal for the region. Although the hot weather caused some stress in late summer, across the region balanced vines had shown the greatest resilience and the highest potential.
Growers and winemakers are reporting a mixture of tonnages; the majority have observed crops to be 20-30% lower than in 2005, however others have reported increased fruitfulness, fruit set and bunch weight. It appears cropping levels varied across the region and have possibly been influenced by both wetter than usual soil profiles in some areas, pruning and other management practices implemented in response to the changing market demand and the usual seasonal effects
Barossa Valley | 2006
The Barossa Valley experienced late opening rainfall after one of the driest recorded autumns of the century. Despite this, winter rainfall was slightly above average with relatively mild weather. Both September and October experienced above average rainfall. Flowering and set were good on most varieties with some variation in Grenache.
Conditions stayed relatively cool and mild until the latter part of December and early January when a series of heat waves were experienced throughout the region, which slowed vegetative growth - particularly on Shiraz and Chardonnay. Rainfall in January was average with relatively cool, mild weather and this, together with lower crop potential, brought veraison forward in most areas.
Mild climatic conditions prevailed right through the vintage period of February and March. Precipitation through this time was approximately 50mm higher than average. Surprisingly, the rainfall did not significantly slow down the ripening process in the early areas. However, some temporary delays on both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon were experienced in the later ripening areas of the Barossa floor. Overall, crops were lower than the previous year with slightly less colour and finer flavours.