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Smaller New Zealand wine vintage is full of promise / The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers. 

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.” 

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.”

 

In terms of vintage quality Mr Gregan said wineries were confident the vintage would deliver the fruit flavours that New Zealand wine is renowned for. “Reports from across the wine regions indicate that generally wineries are positive about the vintage quality. However, as always the ultimate test will be how the market reacts to the wines when they are released. At this stage we are confident the 2017 vintage wines will add to New Zealand’s reputation as a premium producer of cool climate wines.” 

New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries and wine exports are currently valued at $1.65 billion per annum. Wine is New Zealand’s 5th biggest export good. 

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Vintage Report

AUSTRALIA VINTAGE REPORT: The 2017 winegrape crush is estimated to be 1.93 million tonnes, based on responses received by the Wine Sector Survey 2017. This crush is 5 per cent higher than the 2016 final crush figure of 1.84 million tonnes (Department of Agriculture and Water Resources – Levies recorded figure). It is the third consecutive vintage where the tonnes crushed have increased.

Additional tonnes this year came relatively equally from the cool and temperate regions of Australia and the warm inland regions (Riverina, Murray Darling-Swan Hill and Riverland). However, the tonnes from the cool and temperate regions increased by 9 per cent compared to a 3 per cent increase in the warm inland regions.

Most regions recorded an increase in tonnes crushed including: Riverland, Riverina, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Wrattonbully, Margaret River, King Valley, Eden Valley, Heathcote, Tasmania, Orange, Gundagai, Grampians, Hunter Valley, Hilltops, Alpine Valleys and Rutherglen.

 

Regions where the tonnes crushed declined in 2017 included Murray Darling-Swan Hill, Langhorne Creek, Padthaway, Adelaide Hills, Currency Creek, Goulburn Valley, Cowra, Swan District, Mount Benson, Robe and Mudgee.

The 2017 red variety crush is estimated to be 1,062,660 tonnes – an increase of 112,000 tonnes (up 12 per cent) compared with 2016. The white variety crush is estimated to be 866,970 tonnes, a decrease of 19,000 tonnes (down 2 per cent) compared with 2016. Red varieties increased their share of the crush to 55 per cent, compared with 52 per cent in 2016.

The top three red varieties by volume were Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, together accounting for 85 per cent of the total red crush. Shiraz accounted for 47 per cent of the red crush (up slightly from 2016) while the Cabernet Sauvignon share fell from 27 per cent to 26 per cent and Merlot remained at 12 per cent.

Among the whites, Chardonnay remains the dominant variety. However, its share fell from 47 per cent in 2016 to 42 per cent this year with the Chardonnay crush down 13 per cent.

 

2017 will also be a good year for Grenache. It’s a grape whose time has come, and has indeed been coming for a few years. It’s a warm-climate grape that does particularly well in regions such as McLaren Vale. Now that consumers have got over their strange obsession with dark colour and lots of structure in their red wines, Grenache is allowed to do what it does best: make elegant, perfumed, somewhat lighter-coloured reds that are the equivalent of the Pinot Noir of the warmer climates.

Pinot Noir is also going from strength to strength, and superb examples are coming from TasmaniaMornington PeninsularMacedon Ranges and cooler parts of the Yarra Valley. 2017 will be a good year for Pinot, and also for Australian wines’ cool climate regions generally.

Chardonnay is one grape where there has been a shift in style, and 2017 could see it become even more interesting. ‘As you’re well aware there’s been a trend for quite a few years for "size zero” Chardonnay, early picked, skinny and with a very strong sulphidy character,’ says Wildman. ‘The better examples of these wines have dominated at the wine shows and therefore have further driven the style (think Vasse Felix HeytesburyPenfolds Bin A, Oakridge 864). ’However, this style of Chardonnay has come under criticism because it’s almost as if the foot has been made to fit the slipper, and they aren’t actually all that nice to drink. As a consequence, Wildman notes, there are now fewer wines in this skinny-sulphidy style being seen. ‘The pendulum seems to have swung back (rapidly) towards the middle ground, where the wines have some weight, texture and ripeness, are not afraid of some new oak, and the sulphides have been dialed back to just a whisper of struck match, making the wines not too skinny, not too fat, but "just right”.’ He reckons that as the 2016 wines hit the shelves next year this trend for more balanced wines will increase.

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Vintage Report

2017 - A qualitatively good vintage said Austrian Viticultural Association

“Austria’s winegrowers are currently anticipating a quantitatively good vintage with very ripe and healthy grapes”, said Johannes Schmuckenschlager, president of the Viticultural Association.  

With favourable springtime weather, 2017 brings a lot of hope despite some severe frost. Some heavy rains permit fighting back against a hot and dry summer, resulting in a ‘very fine and fully ripe’ vintage, added Schmuckenschlager.

Austria is looking forward to a good average vintage:

  • The Steiermark (Styria), which was not heavily affected by the drought, is looking forward to a very satisfying vintage in terms of both quality and quantity.
  • Burgenland reports a normal sized harvest with a fine quality especially in red wines.
  • Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) and Wien (Vienna) are expecting a good, normal harvest in terms of quality.

In general, Austria estimates an average volume vintage to 2.3 million hectolitres.

 

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The best wines of the 2017 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 ‘La Boheme’ ‘Act Two’ Yarra Valley Pinot Noir Rose 91.0 De Bortoli New South Wales, Australia
2 ‘Rocky Gully’ Riesling 90.0 Frankland Estate West­ern Aus­tralia, Australia
3 Hunter Valley Semillon 89.0 Tyrrell's McLaren Vale, Australia
4 ‘Luccio’ Pinot Grigio 89.0 Pikes South Australia, Australia
5 ‘Luccio’ Clare Valley Fiano 89.0 Pikes South Australia, Australia
6 Clare Valley ‘Luccio’ Sangiovese Rose 88.0 Pikes South Australia, Australia
7 The Merle Riesling 0.0 Pikes South Australia, Australia
8 Mount Barker Riesling 0.0 Howard Park Wines Western Australia, Australia
9 Central Otago Pinot Noir Rosé 0.0 Squealing Pig Marlborough, New Zealand
10 ‘Traditionale’ Riesling 0.0 Pikes South Australia, Australia
11 Cono Sur Single Vineyard Block 23 Riesling 0.0 Cono Sur Colchagua, Chile
12 Limestone Hill 0.0 De Wetshof Cape, South Africa
13 Eden Valley Riesling 0.0 St Hugo South Australia, Australia

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