Vintage 2014: Barossa Valley
Regionality is the driving force behind Two Hands Wines. It gives rise to the Garden Series, an unprecedented portfolio of Australian Shiraz consisting of a wine from each of six distinct regions. As the winery says, “One grape variety, one vintage, one winemaker – soils and climate are the only way of differentiation.” Making great wine from such disparate regions – the Barossa (Bella’s), McLaren Vale (Lily’s), Clare Valley (Samantha’s), Langhorne Creek (Harry & Edward’s), Padthaway (Sophie’s) and Heathcote (Max’s) – is a daunting but exhilarating task that gives the Two Hands team a unique perspective on wine growing in Australia each vintage. With that in mind, Winemaker Ben Perkins has put together a series of reports on the recently completed 2014 growing season. Today the focus is on the Barossa, the most famous Australian wine region and home to the Two Hands winery.
By Ben Perkins, Winemaker
What didn’t happen in the Barossa this season? Good winter rainfalls and above average early spring rainfalls set the vines up for a good season ahead. But as in 2013, late spring and summer rainfall was below average, requiring careful irrigation management. Persistent strong winds at flowering affected the fruit set and, in exposed sites, impacted shoot length. Early November was a near disaster in the areas north of Nuriootpa with severe frosts wiping out many vineyards in Ebenezer. Record heat and fires scorched the valley through mid-January to mid-February and then 80-100mm (3-4 inches) almost washed vintage away.
After the epic rain, vineyards were watched closely and carefully managed, as some displayed skin breakdown due to loss of cell structure in the skin as well as exposure during the heatwave. To make matters worse, many vineyards had to be protected from an increase in bird activity as many species migrated to the valley looking for some good food sources.
If anything, this season highlights how resilient the Barossa, its vines and the people who tend them can been. Remarkably, through all this, early assessments have shown quality to be very good to excellent, across all sub-regions and varieties. Cabernet in particular looks very strong. Interestingly, flavour ripeness was achieved at lower baumes in 2014. Expect Shiraz with more aromatic lift, delicate florals, spice finesse and tighter structure.
See these additional posts in the Vintage Report series: