2020 was a challenging growing season with yields below average for the second year in a row, however the quality looks exceptional and the Clare Valley was fortunate enough to escape any major weather events such as bushfires or frost for which we are very grateful.
Clare’s mean average rainfall is 540mm and in the 2019 calendar year, we only recorded 351mm. This was the second driest year behind 2006 in the past 25 years, and on the back of the 2018 calendar year which saw only 430mm of rain. Groundwater resources were therefore already stressed, with very little availability. We started watering in late August, pre bud burst, knowing the vines needed a good early boost to build some strong canopies in preparation for the forecasted dry conditions.
The region experienced a windy period throughout flowering and again during fruit set, that together with a couple of dry years, contributed to the decrease in yields.
It is important to note that although the beginning of the growing season was quite hot, and remained very dry throughout summer, the months of January, February and March 2020 were cooler than the long-term average, leading to higher than normal natural acidity retention in the fruit at harvest. The winemakers commented that; “the 2020 wines generally have a robust natural acid backbone which will see them age well in coming years. The Rieslings in particular have this ‘uniquely Clare’ acidity, showing beautiful juicy, mouth-watering varietal flavour and our trademark Pinot Gris has extremely concentrated, yet vibrant flavours due to the dry conditions”.
Tim said, “besides the lack of water, it was one of the best starts to a harvest that I have seen in a long time, but disappointingly we don’t have as many grapes as we would like”. He continued by saying, “we are really pleased with preliminary looks at our reds, that are showing great depth of colour, firm tannins and forward fruit flavour. At this early stage we believe the reds will have excellent cellaring potential due to the cooler finish to the growing season that has created excellent pH and acid balance in the wines”.
In summary, although the season was very dry and yields were down 10% compared to last year, the vintage was trouble free and the quality looks excellent.