Wednesday, 10 March 2021

From famine to feast: McLaren Vale celebrates winning vintage

Here's an insider wine tip. 

Keep an eye out for 2021 vintage wines from McLaren Vale, with the South Australian wine region experiencing its best growing conditions in recent years.


Picking throughout the region started in early February with initial reports indicating vintage 2021 is set to exceed expectations.

Winemaker Renae Hirsch (above) from Chalk Hill Wines said both yield and quality were looking exceptional, which is a relief for local vignerons and winemakers following a tough 2020.

“So far, it’s been an extremely great vintage for McLaren Vale," she said. "Yields are up on the last couple of vintages, which is pleasing. We needed a decent crop. 

"The season started well with a wet winter, allowing the vines to produce a good canopy and a good number of bunches. Favourable weather throughout summer, being unusually cool but also quite dry, allowed even ripening.

“We have revelled in the low summer temperatures, which have given us even, slow ripening; producing good flavours, particularly in shiraz which is vibrant, with fine tannins and lovely acid.”

The McLaren Vale region was hit hard in 2020, with vintage conditions reducing the quantity of high-quality fruit, and Covid-19 restrictions impacting cellar door sales and visitation.

“Although the past 12 months have been particularly challenging, we are a forward-thinking community and I sense there is a real drive in the region to revel in the positive outcomes and quality wines from this vintage,” Hirsch said.

Hither & Yon has become McLaren Vale’s first carbon neutral certified wine brand, with co-owner Malcolm Leask saying climate change and sustainability have played a large part in the biodiversity management of their vineyards.

“Vintages are more difficult to predict, so we focus on long term soil health, hence growing conditions like we have experienced in 2021 are very rewarding, it’s very balanced and happy out here," he said.

“We all try to do our part to improve our impact on the landscape – being carbon neutral is a way for us to continuously improve our care for the environment and give back to our local community.”

Oliver’s Taranga Winemaker Corrina Wright acknowledged the optimism surrounding the 2021 vintage.

“It’s really great to be blunt; shiraz is spectacular with intense flavour and delicate tannins and we are seeing average yields, not the lows of the past two years,” she said.

“Fiano and whites are coming off with balance and natural acidity. The long, slow ripening this season allowed flavours to develop naturally and evenly in the vineyard and helped reduce the added pressure of disease.”

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