Hunter Valley Vintage 2017
The 2017 vintage is all in, in the Hunter Valley and the early signs are all excellent. A wet spring in the growing season saw excellent canopy growth and, as it turned out, a generally better than expected crop load. Early summer rains were enough to get the vines through most of their veraison and then January hit. Unlike last January the January of 2017 will be long remembered for its searing heat.
The consistent weather patterns of January 2017, that bought the 40 plus degree winds out of the Australian desert, provided some interesting conditions to ripen grapes in. Chardonnay was generally the first to ripen with picking beginning around the 16th of January which is close to normal. Good flavours at lower sugars were the norm although the warmer evenings saw lower acids than the Hunter is used to. Semillon was a bit later due to higher crop loads and again it was lower sugars despite the heat. The warm dry conditions ensured that all of the fruit picked was in amazing condition.
The strength of the prevailing weather patterns continued into February and there were reds of from low yielding vineyards in the first week. The end of the second week saw a weekend of 48 degree days and warm nights. What reds were not ripe by this stage were soon ripened by the intense heat and everyone was pulling their shiraz off in the following days. Ripe, full flavoured reds with great colour and tannin structures have been the result and with the wines just emerging from their malolactic fermentation there is a definite consistency around their quality.
Overall the 2017 vintage was an outstanding one with great quality and reasonable quantity the hallmark of one of the quickest vintages the Hunter may have seen.