- Monday 26 March 2018
- Written by Admin
Bendigo Advertiser's Anthony Pinda reports on the 2018 Heathcote vintage
A warm and dry start to the beginning of the year has delivered significantly lower yields than an average harvest in the Heathcote wine growing region.
However, there is a trade off. The quality of the fruit this year will provide significant amounts of flavour for winemakers at Tellurian Wines.
An overall warm year with a few extreme heat days in January and February meant smaller berries, but the fruit is showing terrific concentration of colour and flavour, managing director Daniel Hopkins said.
“What we would normally see is the bunch weights almost double in size after harvest.
“But from early January, February through to March bunches only went up by about 50 per cent,” Mr Hopkins said.
“The benefit of the smaller berries means a greater ratio of skin to juice which provides flavour, tannin and colour.
“Fiano, viognier, riesling marsanne and shiraz were all harvested by the end of February, grenache in early March, and later ripening crops mouvèrdre and nero d’avola picked in mid-March.”
The 2018 vintage commenced with limited rainfall in spring and summer which was then followed by warm summer days with cool nights where temperatures dropped to approximately 14 degrees.
As a result the grapes were given time to recover which allowed the fruit to ‘retain freshness and slowly ripen with beautiful flavour development, structure and tannin’.
The last time Mr Hopkins recalled having such low yields was during their earlier vintages around 2008/2009 when there were similar climate conditions.
Tellurian’s winery and vineyard is located in the heart of the world renowned Heathcote wine growing region in central Victoria.
The 80 km north-to-south region boasts an array of top vineyards and a diverse climate.
The southern part of the region tends to have slightly lower temperatures giving the wine a ‘fragrant, lifted, medium density to more brooding, darker fruit intensity in the north’.
Tellurian’s vineyard was started by his father Ian Hopkins in 2002 and it wasn’t until 2010 when Daniel came on board, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience from his time as marketing manager for a premier Australian winemaker from the Yarra Valley.
Similar to other Heathcote wine producers their focus is on shiraz, with approximately two thirds of their vineyard planted with the variety.
But they have also ventured into the realm of different varieties which originated from the Rhône Valley in France.
“We grow a lot of French varieties because our climate and our temperature is now similar to the Rhône Valley,” Mr Hopkins said.
“We pick varieties we know have performed well in similar climates throughout Europe and the other varieties we grow are southern Italian.
“They perform well in our warmish climate.”
Winemakers who do not have their own vineyards will be greatly affected by the reduced yield this year.
“I’ve spoken to other growers who have said the demand for grapes coming out of Heathcote this year well exceeds the available supply,” he said.
“On one hand it is disappointing for people who would be looking to buy fruit and make wine from Heathcote.
“But what it does show is the demand for our fruit is very strong.”
The region is well known for one of the most highly consumed varieties in Australia, shiraz.
Heathcote Wine Growers’ Association executive officer Chris Earl said despite the lower yield the quality of the grapes that had been picked were very high.
“The wines that will be released by the wine growers will be of an even greater and higher premium standard,” Mr Earl said.
“Wine Australia has recently said the Heathcote wine region was the new jewel in the crown for wine in Victoria.
“The region is unique with its passionate family owned small business wineries that are a big economic contributor not only to Heathcote but to the City of Greater Bendigo and the region in general.”
The maturity of shiraz and other varieties continues to increase the recognition and acclaim for the region in not just Australia, but also globally.
“We are producing quality grapes which then become fine and premium wines that are finding great acceptance in restaurants and on dinner tables around the country,” Mr Earl said.
“But increasingly, a huge appreciation on the international scene.”
Tellurian now export to the United Kingdom, Canada and their largest markets are Singapore and China.
“We are seeing a lot of interest from places like China for Heathcote shiraz because it has such great flavour, it is very approachable and works well with food,” Mr Earl said.
“There is also a real spark of interest for the alternate Mediterranean varieties which are medium-bodied and present really exciting flavours.”