Pernod Ricard celebrates 2013 vintage

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The harvest in Australia took place up to six weeks earlier than 20 years ago, according to Pernod Ricard.


The company’s winemakers in New Zealand described the vintage as “sensational”, while its Australian team called it “above average”.


Brancott Estate’s chief winemaker Patrick Materman said the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc harvest bears all the characteristics of the region. “The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough,” he said.


“While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of growing degree days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.


“While still going through ferment, we’re anticipating some rich and flavoursome wines to develop from 2013. Sauvignon Gris also excelled in the cool, dry, sunny conditions and Pinot Noir looks tremendous after a long, even ripening period which has resulted in great colour development and fruit maturity.”


In Australia, the last load of grapes for Jacob’s Creek wines has been delivered, marking the end of the 2013 vintage for the Barossa-based winery.


Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker for Jacob’s Creek described the 2013 vintage as an “above-average year in terms of quality, despite intake timelines being compressed and grape yields down”.


He said: “We are seeing great varietal definition in both our red and white wines. In particular the reds are very exciting as they have intense colour and great tannin structure.


“In South Australia, dry conditions with moderately warm temperatures accelerated ripening and compressed the harvest. Vintage peaked on February 18 at Orlando which was about two weeks earlier than 2011 and 2010. Grape yields were down due to a combination of factors, but the main cause was the dry spring and summer conditions leading into this vintage that resulted in smaller berry size and lighter bunch weights in 2013.”


The warm and dry conditions led the first Barossa Shiraz to be picked from February 12, which is approximately 14 days earlier than the 20-year long-term average for Orlando. Similarly, Eden Valley Riesling was harvested four to six weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago.


“The 2013 vintage highlights a new way forward for Riesling. A revolution is occurring in Eden Valley and Clare in which Rieslings are showing their best at lower alcohols. With the earlier harvest we are still retaining natural grape acidity and attractive lemony mineral flavours in the final wine, but alcohol levels are falling from historical levels of 12%–13% abv to around 11%–12%,” added Hickin.


Overall, Bernard Hickin said 2013 produced “exciting above average quality wines showing fresh varietal flavours in the key varieties”. Hickin predicted Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is likely to reveal itself as the star performer of 2013.


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