BAROSSA VINTAGE 2023 COMMENTARY – the Sons of Eden perspective
Temperature is the key force in driving vine phenology ie the vine’s rate of physiological development through budburst to flowering, fruit set, veraison, and finally ripeness.
A particularly cool and damp start to the growing season through October to December 2022 dramatically reduced the rate of vine development. In addition, cooler than average conditions from veraison onwards all conspired to push back harvest 3-4 weeks.
Harvest started with the Selene Tempranillo on the 16th March, the latest pick date for this variety since its first harvest in 2003. Harvest was completed on the 9th May with Cabernet Sauvignon from the upper reaches of Eden Valley.
The January to February 2023 period was dry with generous periods of daytime heat which pushed the vines comfortably into veraison. Notably the nights were cool which allowed the vines to recover and maximise their yield potential through berry development. A cool March allowed for slow ripening of the reds, resulting in excellent colour and tannin development, all achieved at lower than the normal sugar levels.
The best red wines were made from the lower yielding vineyards from naturally warmer sites and were typified by the near perfect balance of flavour, tannin and natural acidity. Higher cropped vineyards from cooler sites struggled to reach full maturity.
We measure each Barossa vintage by the number of highlights it produces across our 30+ diverse vineyard sites. With such an array of climatic, soil and vineyard characteristics across the Barossa there is a subtle shifting of quality from vintage to vintage, depending on what mother nature delivers.
With direct involvement in our fruit sources, we were able to manage yields to produce an exceptional outcome in most cases.
Riesling from Eden Valley was outstanding, despite the harvest being 2 weeks later than the usual dates we managed to make balanced wines with intense flavours and acidity.
Shiraz wines from Barossa Valley, particularly those from old vines, display deep vibrant colours, rich flavours and hearty tannin structures.
Grenache from Barossa Valley, like Eden Valley Riesling was the standout red variety for the harvest. Grenache enjoyed the slow ripening and hang time on the vine. Wines are spicy and perfumed with lovely tannin ripeness and palate length.
Shiraz from Eden Valley had an incredibly long slow ripening period and display classic cool climate characters of pretty red-fruits, pepper and spice. The wines are flavoursome with focused and silky tannin structures.
The growing season temperature is often measured by an index known as Growing Degree Days (GDD). The GDD for season 2022-23 of 1371 was markedly below the long term average of 1487 which provides the evidence for the later than normal harvest.
We have benchmarked the climatic conditions against another well know wine region, Hermitage, Northern Rhone Valley. Notably the Barossa Valley was a similar temperature (as measured by Growing Degree Days) as the Hermitage long term average, however, well under their normal growing season rainfall.
BAROSSA VINAGE 2023 NUMEROLOGY
Spring Rainfall rainfall (Sept-Nov 2022) – 304mm (ave 133mm)
Growing season rainfall (October-April) – 326mm (ave Hermitage, Nth Rhone 625mm)
Season 2022-23 Growing Degree Days – 1371 (ave 1487)
Season 2022-23 Growing Degree Days – 1371 (ave Hermitage, Nth Rhone 1344)
actual and average data taken from Bureau of Meteorology, Nuriootpa Weather Station
average data taken from Gladstones, J (2016) Viticulture and Environment. Winetitles