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Pyrenees Grapegrowers and
Winemakers 2009 Vintage Report
The 2009 vintage has produced some of the best reds of the last twenty years for the Pyrenees region, which saw ideal conditions throughout the season, excepting the fortnight of extreme heat in January,. Mild conditions from budburst through to fruit set saw the regions vineyards in excellent condition, although yields were forecast to be below the norm by 20 to 25%. Rain in mid December freshened up the vineyards and, crucially as it later showed, replenished water reserves. Some growers decided to reduce yields further to ensure they had sufficient water to carry the crop through to harvest.
Like the much of Victoria, the vineyards of the Pyrenees endured a fortnight of extreme heat, with temperatures in excess of 39 degree Celsius culminating in a 45-degree blast on Black Saturday (7th February, 2009). Vineyards that had access to water were able to better weather the heat, with small regular irrigations appearing to work best. Any varieties that were not yet through veraison appeared to be less affected, as were those blocks planted on a north-south aspect. There were few vineyards in the district that could have withstood another week of those conditions, and it was with great relief that the cool change came through.Harvest started early with many vineyards making the most of cooler day and night time conditions by harvesting white varieties for sparkling base and table wine production in the last couple weeks of February. Vineyards that retained healthy canopies provided some protection from the severe heat and retained good acid balance and some delicate fruit flavours. More exposed fruit suffered sunburn, berry shrivel and acid loss. Good flavour ripeness was achieved in Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at all ripeness levels. Some produces reported Chardonnay for sparkling base with good flavours as low as 8 Baume.
Likewise for the red varieties, those vineyards that were able to maintain healthy canopies either through good vine nutrition and / or soil moisture status achieved outstanding fruit quality. Most growers are delighted with the colour intensity and tannin concentration, as well as the purity and power of varietal expression across all the 2009 red varieties, however some reported a potential decrease in flavour development due to a shorter ripening period. Ideal ripening conditions allowed winemakers the luxury of waiting for fruit to achieve optimum ripeness, with most achieving great intensity and concentration without excessive bagging or stressed fruit characters.
In summary, those vineyards that had adequate canopy to provide protection from the late Jan & early Feb heat, and enough water and good vine health to maintain the canopy will deliver some stunning wines across all varieties, particularly reds. Those that depleted their water reserves early and were pestered by birds and other wildlife may experience diminished quality and quantity. In short a challenging, but ultimately rewarding vintage for those who could maintain sound vines through the heat. The resultant wines may in time set a new benchmark for the region.
As a region and a community, we are extremely grateful that we were spared the devastating impacts of the bushfires and potential damage from smoke taint. Our hearts and our thoughts go out to those who saw their year’s work wither on the vine on the eve of harvest or worse still, had their lives and livelihoods be completely destroyed by the events of February the 7th.
2008 Vintage Notes
Rain late October/November 2007 produced a very good crop that promised much (2008- 130 Tonnes) and far exceed the very low yield of 2007 (66 tonnes). Two weeks of extremely hot the beginning of March was the major influence for this vintage
Fortunate to pick the whites prior to the heat, their showing some of the most delicate and varietal flavours emanating from the Warrenmang Vineyards. With the hot spell the red varieties bolted for the winery and bottle necks ensued.
The best blocks in the vineyard received priority and quality for the 08 Estate
One word: “Challenging”.