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To achieve this, the grapes are hand-harvested from 1997 planted Syrah.
Swinney's Syrah comes from a single parcel of 22-year-old Syrah vines (on a similar soil profile to the Grenache) that includes a range of clones, including Jack Mann's (winemaker Rob Mann's grandfather!) heritage massale selection. Unlike the bush vine Grenache and Mourvèdre, the Syrah is trellised, although there are plans afoot to plant single-stake Syrah in the future. As with the Grenache above, the vines were meticulously managed and the fruit was sorted in both vineyard and winery. Although the Frankland River is cool-climate continental, Swinney also use shade cloth for the Shiraz on the western side, creating a soft, mottled light to protect the skins and lower the temperature in the bunch zone.
After sorting, 54% whole bunches were incorporated to build structure and texture while promoting bright and spicy aromatics. Everything was gravity-fed to a French oak vat and two 600L demi-muids for natural fermentation. The wine spent 11 days on skins before it was basket-pressed directly to fine-grained large format French oak, where it was aged for 11 months prior to bottling (the wine only saw 8% new oak). Like the Farvie Grenache, the Farvie Syrah was made with minimum effective sulphites and was bottled unfined.
"Tremendous example of syrah from Frankland River. High-end aromatics that release after decanting. And it needed decanting because it is still such a tightly wound and tense wine, withholding its best for a few years. The juice runs by gravity to a large oak vat and two 600L barrels before gentle pressing to large format French oak of which only 8 per cent is new. It's unfined and minimally filtered which really maximises the sense that this is a wine of the vineyard. Glorious wine that captures all that is good from this region." 98 points, Ray Jordan, The West Australian
Very promising quality with the most bullish commentators declaring 2018 great in every region and for every variety. The more circumspect view is that early frosts reduced yields, but good, consistent weather throughout the second half of the growing season did indeed result in great potential.
2018 Barossa vintage one to savour
Barossa 2018 vintage wrapped up at the end of April 2018, with grape growers and winemakers happy with a high-quality vintage and good yields.
“Flavours and colours in reds are wonderful, and natural acids in the Eden Valley whites surprisingly high, with early standout varieties this year including Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet”, said Yalumba head of winemaking Louisa Rose.
The growing season started off well, with Winter 2017 rainfall around 10% higher than average. However, Spring rainfall was only 78% of average in Barossa Valley (BV) and 98% in Eden Valley (EV), and December rainfall was only 57% of average in BV (88% in EV).
Drier soils, combined with warmer than average October and November days (October 2ºC above average in BV (1.8 ºC in EV) and November 1.1ºC above average in BV (1.6 ºC in EV), meant the vine canopies grew quickly; flowering well and setting a good number of bunches.
January and February were warm and dry, with very warm temperatures in February slowing down the pace of ripening. January was slightly above average (1.4ºC during the day but closer to average at night) and February was about average during the day, but with significantly warmer than average night time temperatures in Barossa Valley (5.8ºC warmer).
With summer rainfall 50% of average, growers with access to water, soil moisture monitoring, good irrigation management and healthy soils experienced less stress – and subsequently delivered sound fruit and consistent yields.
The Indian summer of March and early April was ‘the icing on the cake’, with average temperatures, without extremes, perfect for finishing off vintage. The 28-30mm of rain on 14/15 April did not cause any major problems for picking – and was a welcome post-harvest watering for most Barossa growers.
Overall, in 2018, Barossa Valley crushed 56,970 tonnes*, down 22% from the 2017 vintage but 9% above the five-year average. In 2018, Eden Valley crushed 11,593 tonnes*, down 3% from 2017.
The total Barossa crush of 68,563 tonnes* contributed 9% of the total volume and 25% of the total value of the South Australian crush.
Average prices for Barossa Valley varieties remained steady in 2018, with Shiraz at $2252 per tonne 1% down on last year. In Eden Valley, the average price for Shiraz increased 11% to $2636 per tonne and Cabernet Sauvignon increased 15% to $2354.
*Wine Australia estimates the SA Winegrape crush response rate is 85%, so the actual total Barossa crush is estimated at 75,000 to 80,000 tonnes.