The 2022 South Australia vintage
The 2022 vintage season in South Australia was cool in the Barossa and Eden Valleys. The Clare Valley saw vintages similar to the '80s and '90s. Harvest was later in the Adelaide Hills and Plains, harvest was late, and Langhorne Creek saw excellent malbec, cabernet, shiraz, grenache and petit verdot produced.
In recent decades, a cool ripening season is a blessing in the Barossa Valley. The 2022 season delivered below average temperatures and bright, sunny days from February through to a harvest two weeks later than average – with picking continuing into May. Good winter and spring rainfall set the vines up for reasonable yields, though impacted heavily and sporadically first by inclement conditions during fruit set, then by spring frost, then by severe hailstorms in late October in central Barossa and late February in the north. Vineyards not impacted were optimistic about elegant and structured wines with depth and length of flavour.
Eden Valley played out a similar story, where the October hailstorm was the worst in living memory. February, March and April made the vintage, with a lingering Indian summer of mild yet dry days of below average temperatures and cold nights ripening low but intense crops of bountiful flavour and natural acidity. In Stephen Henschke
’s words: "A later vintage suiting both riesling
After three lean years, the Clare Valley enjoyed a vintage of both quality and quantity. Moderate crops of all varieties basked in mild, sunny days with no rain or humidity. Jeffrey Grosset
summed it up as "a beautiful, idyllic vintage of uninterrupted, stunningly beautiful weather – more typical of the better vintages of the 1980s and 1990s!"
Jeff Grosset of Grosset in the Clare Valley.
In McLaren Vale, inconsistent set reduced yields by about 15 per cent compared with the large crops of 2021. Mild conditions of warm days, cool nights, minimal rain and no heat spikes lingered from February through April, producing what winemaker Chester Osborn from d’Arenberg
described as "the best reds I have seen in years." Expect vibrant wines of supple tannins and bright natural acidity.
The Adelaide Hills experienced a very cool season and the latest harvest since 2011. Variable conditions during flowering impacted yields particularly in pinot noir
, on a site-by-site basis. A cool, relatively dry autumn furnished long ripening to uphold very good natural acidity while building flavoursome whites and deep, rich reds. Pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz were the standouts.
Harvest was late in the Adelaide Plains with warm days and cool nights making for great flavour development and retention of natural acidity.
Hollick Estates in Coonawarra.
A cool season in Coonawarra saw good yields enjoy extended ripening through mild autumn days and cool nights. On the day of harvest of John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, Sue Hodder informed me that in her 30 years at Wynns
she has never seen such a steady and varietally separated vintage. The region is excited about wines of varietal definition, with whites of great natural acidity and reds of depth of colour and cabernet sauvignon the predictable standout.
Wrattonbully experienced a classic vintage with a delayed start to the season and mild ripening conditions producing superb sauvignon blanc
and reds of excellent flavour and acidity.
Padthaway produced slightly below average yields under mild and dry conditions with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon the highlights.
In Langhorne Creek, cool conditions and below-average rainfall from February facilitated full-flavour ripeness and good colour at moderate alcohol levels. Excellent wines were produced across the board – in particular malbec, cabernet
, shiraz, grenache
and petit verdot. Winemaker Paul Hotker from Bleasdale
waxed: "It is difficult for me to believe that this year could be better than 2021, but this vintage I think is the best I have experienced in Langhorne Creek."
Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills.
Windy, cold and wet conditions led to poor set and reduced yields in the Southern Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island. A much cooler-than-average summer resulted in delayed harvests and fantastic wines.
Mount Benson and Robe experienced an exceptional vintage that one prominent grower described as, "the best of cool climate viticulture, with colour, flavour and natural acidity in spades!" A great year for pinot gris
, sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon.
In the Riverland yields were knocked around by localised spring frosts and severe hail and wind storms. Mild and dry conditions in summer and autumn facilitated excellent flavour development.
Top image credit: Wine Australia.