The 2020 Western Australian vintage
Margaret RiverMargaret River had low rainfall and warmer than average temperatures in spring, continuing into summer. Isolated rain and hail patches exacerbated an overall pattern of small bunches coupled with low berry weight. The standout was cabernet sauvignon, with physiologically ripe tannins and balanced acidity, although chardonnay was described by one prominent grower as having ‘incredible purity and clarity’. A massive Marri flowering reduced bird pressure to zero, and the low rainfall meant minimal mildew issues. An early vintage variously described as very good to excellent quality.
Great SouthernThe Great Southern had the driest winter and spring for over 100 years, and the dry conditions carried on in summer until rain events in late January/early February proved to be a godsend, refreshing the vines and not impeding harvest.Yields were 50–60% down, and the mild weather resulted in rapid ripening. This required rapid response in picking, but with appropriate management high quality grapes were harvested.
ManjimupManjimup had good winter rain, but as spring arrived the rain stopped and temperatures rose, reaching low- to mid-30s, and rapid ripening resulted in the earliest harvest on record.Yet riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz stood out in a harvest of very good quality.
PembertonPemberton had adequate winter/spring rainfall to fill the dams, along with comparatively mild growing conditions through the entire season with no disease or bird pressure. Low yields were of excellent quality, riesling and pinot noir the standouts.
GeographeGeographe had the hottest December days ever, accompanied by the driest December since 2008, conditions that continued through summer. The yields were low, but no bushfires or birds meant the grapes were in perfect condition across all varieties, with purity of varietal fruit, bright and fresh flavours and deep colours.
Swan ValleySwan Valley had average spring rainfall and above-average temperatures, which resulted in rapid growth and the earliest vintage experienced by many growers. Heatwaves in December preceded veraison and had little or no impact.Yields were down 20% in a vintage of excellent quality, particularly chenin blanc and semillon.
Perth HillsPerth Hills had low to moderate spring rain, then extremely dry weather through summer, and autumn was bone-dry. Shiraz was the star of a vintage of likewise excellent quality.
To discover more regional insights from the 2020 Australian vintage – click here.