The 2022 Victoria vintage
The 2022 vintage in Victoria was not without its challenges with storms, hail and extreme conditions impacting yields and disease pressure keeping viticulture and winemaking teams on their toes.
It was a story of quality over quantity in the Yarra Valley, with miserable flowering conditions and spring rains knocking yields to 30–40 per cent below average. Cool and dry conditions led up to a late harvest of outstanding chardonnay
of high natural acidity. The 2022 vintage of chardonnay is set to go down among the top four vintages of the past decade. Aromatic whites were particularly fragrant, pinot noir
perfumed, bright and charming, and cabernet sauvignon
was especially outstanding.
On the Mornington Peninsula, a severe storm with 100km/h winds during flowering obliterated yields by up to 60 per cent in some sites and 30 per cent in others. Fears of accelerated ripening of such small crops were mitigated by mild and dry conditions in March, producing extraordinary quality. Whites showed excellent natural acidity and flavour, while pinots exhibited great colour, balance and poise.
Yields in Geelong likewise suffered from extreme conditions during flowering, and also from early season frost and disease pressure through summer. The result was concentrated and powerful fruit of but half the usual crop levels.
Crittenden Estate on the Mornington Peninsula.
In Gippsland one of the coolest and wettest seasons was reminiscent of vintages of the 20th century. Warm and dry conditions favoured the pinot noir and chardonnay harvest.
A wet spring in the King Valley made disease mitigation paramount, making way for idyllic, cool and dry ripening conditions through February and March.
Similar conditions in the Alpine Valleys produced sensational quality from well-managed vineyards.
Beechworth experienced one of its latest harvests ever, in spite of fairly early budburst. A cool season produced chardonnay that Rick Kinzbrunner, founder and winemaker of Giaconda
, described as "at the highest end of the scale," though at the time it was still too early for him to make a call on the reds.
A few bursts of heavy rainfall between veraison and picking kept viticulturists on their toes in Upper Goulburn. A warm, extended ripening period ensured good fruit development before a compressed harvest.
Savaterre in Beechworth.
In Henty, yields were down around 25 per cent as a result of variable flowering and set. A dry, warm autumn encouraged even progression of ripeness and good flavour development, particularly in riesling
, chardonnay and pinot noir.
In the Macedon Ranges, Michael Dhillon listed 2022 among the seven toughest seasons since his family planted their Bindi
vineyard in 1988. Wet, humid and cool from start to finish, yields were a little down in pinot noir and more so in chardonnay. Flavour was achieved at low baumes in chardonnay of depth and intensity, and pinot noir of brightness, purity, depth and length.
In Sunbury a wet year made vigilance in disease control vital. Cool conditions made for slow ripening even of modest yields of shiraz and cabernet.
In Nagambie Lakes summer was mild and largely dry, though picking had to work around some late summer and early autumn rain events. A late burst of warmth through most of April got the later-ripening varieties across the line.
Cold and windy conditions during flowering knocked yields around in Bendigo. Moderate conditions facilitated slow ripening, particularly favourable in warmer sites, though heavy and untimely rain events proved a challenge at both ends of harvest.
Sanguine in Heathcote.
A lovely, mild season in Heathcote produced very close to average yields of very high-quality fruit.
In the Grampians frost and hail impacted yields. The ripening season was largely mild and dry, with no significant heat waves, making significant late summer rain events the key challenge of the vintage.
Similarly cool conditions in Pyrenees made for extended ripening, great varietal expression and exceptional natural acid balance across all varieties.
In Glenrowan, these cool conditions from bud burst until harvest enabled all red varieties to fully ripen, with durif the standout.
In Rutherglen, rain affected yields during flowering and a large rain event toward the end of January preceded a harvest of relatively cool temperatures.
Top image credit: Wine Australia.