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Adelaide Hills – 2016

Extremely heavy winter rainfall and ferocious spring winds and hail set up one of the most challenging vintages we have ever experienced at Lenswood. Flowering was late, occurring in December rather than November, in rare calm and sunny weather which set us up for good yields. The conditions post-Christmas were characterised by elevated evening temperatures, heavy rain every four days, foggy mornings and low day time temperatures.
Harvest started in March; three weeks later than usual. By Easter, all Adelaide Hills whites and our pinot noir were safely in the winery, and in excellent condition despite 760mm falling during the growing season. This was a vintage saved in the vineyard by the outstanding work of the Adelaide Hills viticultural team under extremely trying conditions. The Noble Gewϋrztraminer, merlot and cabernet were all picked in May. Results exceeded expectations, and the flavours in the wines defy the conditions in which they grew and ripened. The Lenswood vineyard continues to show enormous resilience, and the soil health no doubt plays an important role in the beautiful wines created in 2017.

Adelaide Hills – 2016

The 2016 vintage began with below-average winter rainfall, followed by a warm and dry spring, which enhanced flowering and set to provide average to above-average yield potential. Low disease pressure was maintained by one of the hottest Decembers on record, though temperatures cooled down in the New Year and rainfall around veraison in late January/early February brought relief to our early-ripening varieties in the Adelaide Hills, resulting in excellent conditions for natural acid retention and clean fruit. This was followed by further rainfall in early March, which eased the stress on the late-ripening varieties, allowing them to mature towards a predicted earlier harvest due to an early Easter. Open, light and airy vine canopies allowed for good flavour, sugar, colour and mature tannins to develop at harvest, which was overall characterised by average yields but very high quality.

Adelaide Hills – 2015

A traditionally wet winter, mild spring and excellent fruit set provided a great start to the 2015 vintage after four vintages with below average yields. Spring was dry and led into a very mild, dry summer with no disease, resulting in fruit with higher natural acidity, and incredible flavour and colour concentration. A dry, warm and windy start to January, however, resulted in one of the worst bushfires in the Adelaide Hills in living memory, though well away from our Lenswood vineyards.  By the end of the first week, relief came with 60-75mm of rain and a record-breaking coolest January in 11 years. With the onset of veraison at the end of January, the rain was perfectly timed for our vineyards, and the mild weather that followed from February through to April provided for a fairytale vintage. Most of the white varieties were in before Easter, moving on to the reds soon after, and eventually winding down at the end of April as the rain and cooler temperatures set in. The 2015 vintage has provided classic Adelaide Hills expressions of riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir that show extraordinary flavour, purity of fruit and acid balance with the potential for excellent ageing. 

Adelaide Hills – 2014

The 2014 vintage began with the winery coming alive to the fragrant aromas of fermentation. But what a year we’ve had! This year, the moon cycles put Easter quite late in the season, so the expectation of a late harvest prevailed…until South Australia experienced its record number of heat days over 40C in January, culminating in the worst bushfire in Eden Valley in living memory. This taste of hell ended in the wettest February in 44 years – all in 48 hours, when we received between 115 and 150mm of rain. Fortunately, Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills were still in veraison, which allowed the quenching rain to rebalance the fruit, particularly in the older dry-grown vineyards. The yields appeared depressingly minuscule, due to a severe black frost in spring and cold windy weather during flowering in early December. Early picks of semillon and shiraz after the heat wave were in response to vine stress. The change to mild autumnal weather in late February after the rains allowed for a focus on other early vintage varieties, riesling in Eden Valley and pinot noir at Lenswood. Mild weather with cold dewy mornings and windy days prevailed. Disease pressure increased as March became colder and wetter, which seemed to change to a winter pattern after the equinox. It was indeed a late vintage and also resulted in one of our longest vintages. The picking of Eden Valley cabernet and Lenswood merlot brought the season to a close at the beginning of May, where skilled vineyard teams played a critical role by hand selecting and picking the best quality fruit during the onset of rain and cold wintery weather.

In summary, a challenging season with good quality but very low yields.

Adelaide Hills – 2013

The 2013 harvest was expected to be early, with the Easter full moon very close to the autumn equinox, and sure enough budburst started early in spring 2012 with green shoots emerging in the first week of September suggesting this would be so.

All varieties woke to a cool and mild spring, with cabernet the last to greet the sun on October 1. A snow flurry in early October led into a mild November, with warm days and nights providing excellent conditions for flowering. Set was excellent across all varieties.

Spring was conspicuous for its dryness but thankfully frost free, and as summer approached the vines developed beautifully balanced canopies and rain was just a distant memory. It was not to rain again until the end of harvest, seven dry months that produced a green drought.

As harvest time approached, it was abundantly clear that 2013 was going to be exceptional in terms of yield and quality across all varieties – a rare thing in the lofty airs of Lenswood, where weather events usually dictate terms that are best described as challenging!

Chardonnay and riesling were fabulous, as too were sauvignon blanc, gewϋrztraminer, pinot gris, merlot and cabernet. But the vintage will be defined by the pinot noir, which was developing flavours well ahead of the baume curve, requiring close attention with blocks being selectively picked four times over two weeks, chasing those elusive pinot flavours that present Turkish delight, cherries, five spice and a potpourri of herbs, with lively acids. We can look forward to elegant and long-lived pinots from the numerous parcels that came in.

Lenswood does not give up her fruit easily but every now and then she tosses a furtive glance your way and delivers the unexpected. The 2013 harvest will be remembered as near perfection in a year of snow and drought, truly a rare and exceptional vintage. Wherever your preferences lie, 2013 will reward you handsomely with power and finesse.

Adelaide Hills – 2013

The 2013 harvest was expected to be early, with the Easter full moon very close to the autumn equinox, and sure enough budburst started early in spring 2012 with green shoots emerging in the first week of September suggesting this would be so.

All varieties woke to a cool and mild spring, with cabernet the last to greet the sun on October 1. A snow flurry in early October led into a mild November, with warm days and nights providing excellent conditions for flowering. Set was excellent across all varieties.

Spring was conspicuous for its dryness but thankfully frost free, and as summer approached the vines developed beautifully balanced canopies and rain was just a distant memory. It was not to rain again until the end of harvest, seven dry months that produced a green drought.

As harvest time approached, it was abundantly clear that 2013 was going to be exceptional in terms of yield and quality across all varieties – a rare thing in the lofty airs of Lenswood, where weather events usually dictate terms that are best described as challenging!

Chardonnay and riesling were fabulous, as too were sauvignon blanc, gewϋrztraminer, pinot gris, merlot and cabernet. But the vintage will be defined by the pinot noir, which was developing flavours well ahead of the baume curve, requiring close attention with blocks being selectively picked four times over two weeks, chasing those elusive pinot flavours that present Turkish delight, cherries, five spice and a potpourri of herbs, with lively acids. We can look forward to elegant and long-lived pinots from the numerous parcels that came in.

Lenswood does not give up her fruit easily but every now and then she tosses a furtive glance your way and delivers the unexpected. The 2013 harvest will be remembered as near perfection in a year of snow and drought, truly a rare and exceptional vintage. Wherever your preferences lie, 2013 will reward you handsomely with power and finesse.

Adelaide Hills – 2012

The beginning of the season for the 2012 vintage saw a drier, cold winter with below average rainfall. Rainfall was also below average in spring with mild conditions and an early budburst. Flowering and fruit set were affected by persistent morning fogs and drizzly weather. This led to a reduction in crop and smaller bunches. Summer was mild with average temperatures influenced by moderating southerlies off the ocean in January and only two short heat events, at New Year and at the end of February. The coldest periods were in the second week of January and the second week of February. This provided for a slow ripening period, which encouraged intense fruit flavours, high natural acidity and good balance. Rainfall leading up to vintage was above average, with the heaviest rainfall events in late January and late February. Temperatures were average going into an early harvest at the beginning of March, warming to an Indian summer in April. This allowed for a long window of picking, finishing on April 20. Standout varieties are chardonnay, showing exquisite fruit flavours, length and acidity, and pinot noir, showing excellent spice, colour intensity and mature velvety tannins. Yields were below average; however, overall quality is exceptional.

Adelaide Hills – 2011

The lead-up to the 2011 vintage saw a return to normal conditions. A milder winter with average rainfalls led into a cool spring and a late budburt, interspersed with numerous significant rainfall events beginning at flowering, accompanied by persistent morning fogs, as well as snow in October and frost in November. This led to some crop loss in some of our more sensitive varieties susceptible to downy mildew. Despite this, vine growth and fruit development continued at a steady and even pace. Summer was generally mild with significant thunderstorm activity largely skirting Lenswood. Veraison began in late February, heralding a late beginning to the harvest with mild temperatures causing a nervous anticipation of what was potentially a very high quality crop. Only powdery mildew could affect the outcome, so great attention was paid to leaf plucking around bunches and disease monitoring. Bunch and berry weight were lower, which resulted in lower yields and greater concentration of colour and flavour in the fruit. The unseasonal rain, high humidity and mild conditions during autumn encouraged the spread of fungal diseases. Botrytis developed quickly under ideal conditions, making hand-selection essential. Fortunately, the cool summer had allowed for early flavour development at lower than normal sugar levels, and despite the difficult conditions, the Adelaide Hills produced some excellent whites, in particular riesling and sauvignon blanc.

Adelaide Hills – 2010

The 2010 Adelaide Hills vintage received above average rainfall. A two-week heat wave experienced across South Australia in November had less impact on the vines in the Adelaide Hills, as it was less severe and occurred pre-flowering. Rain continued through until mid-summer and was recorded as one of the wettest seasons for many years. Like Eden Valley, the vintage in the Hills was a week earlier than last year. Powdery mildew was more prevalent due to the very humid conditions experienced throughout summer which was a good test for the organic/ biodynamic strategy! The earlier vintage without the extremes in temperature gave high quality fruit with great flavour and fine acids, but did affect the quantity with average yields.

Adelaide Hills – 2009

The rainfall was below average in the lead-up to the 2009 vintage in the Adelaide Hills. Spring was mild with rainfall periods in October and mid-December; however, overall it was one of driest starts to year since 1957. Fine flowering weather at the end of November allowed good flowering and average yields and the vines showed vigorous growth. A dry, early summer followed, which encouraged good growth and some restriction on berry and bunch size. Early January tended warm to hot, with a couple of heat spikes into the high 30s and low 40s including a peak on Black Saturday on February 7 when the temperature hit 46C. Subsequent weather was mild and dry and from March 1 moved into autumn mode, with perfect ripening weather. The natural advantage afforded by the Hills is the altitude (550m), which provides cooler growing conditions during summer and a greater day/night temperature differential for acid retention in the grapes and greater purity of fruit flavours. Careful hand-picking allowed selection of the best quality fruit with some excellent to exceptional wines, in particular sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris and chardonnay. It was a season that once again showed the advantages of organic and biodynamic viticulture.

Adelaide Hills – 2008

There was a below average winter rainfall lead-up to the 2008 vintage in the Adelaide Hills. Spring was mild with rainfall periods in October, early mid-November and mid- December. Fine flowering weather at the end of November allowed for good flowering and above average yields and the vines also showed vigorous growth. A dry and hotter than average early summer followed (November 2007 was the warmest for 25 years), which encouraged good growth and some restriction on berry and bunch size followed by hot summer temperatures around New Year. From mid-January through February mild temperatures and cold nights followed which ensured excellent development of fruit colour, flavour and balance of pH and acidity. It was the coolest February since 1978. Harvest began three weeks early at the end of February with the white varieties. However, in early March South Australia suffered an unprecedented record heat wave of 15 days over 35C. The unexpected continual heat seemed never-ending and resulted in some varieties suffering leaf drop, escalating sugar levels in the fruit and some shrivel. Although the heat had a marked effect in the Adelaide Hills it was not as bad as in the other regions of South Australia. The natural advantage afforded by the Hills is the altitude (600m), which provides cooler growing conditions during summer and a greater day/night temperature differential for acid retention in the grapes and greater purity of fruit flavours. The cool change which followed brought welcome relief, however some fruit was adversely affected. Careful handpicking allowed selection of the best quality fruit producing some excellent to exceptional wines, in particular sauvignon blanc and riesling. It was an ideal season to practise organic viticulture and a season that demanded biodynamics to keep the vines healthy.

Adelaide Hills – 2007

The 2007 vintage, surprisingly, resulted in excellent quality wines and average yields being obtained from the Adelaide Hills. The highly publicised drought of 2006 had been reported as the worst ever. Our Lenswood vineyard in the Adelaide Hills received only half its annual rainfall and was one of our driest seasons.Despite an early winter break, rainfall during winter and spring was the worst for years in the lead-up to flowering. There was no spring frost damage at Lenswood due to the steep terrain but there was a lack of subsoil moisture due to the drought which helped control yields.Brief heat waves occurred during January; otherwise it was mild and dry. At the end of January a tropical air mass connected with a cold front to bring good rains to the agricultural areas of South Australia, with flooding up north. The rainfall fell steadily over four days, coinciding with veraison, which freshened up the vine canopy to assist with ripening the fruit for harvest. February was recorded as the hottest for 100 years, bringing the harvest forward. The vintage began three to four weeks early, one of the earliest on record, remaining dry and mild allowing for good maturity. The whites were picked by March 20 and the reds by April 18, a record early finish. In summary, a warmer and drier ‘Eden Valley-like’ vintage with good average yields and excellent quality.

Adelaide Hills – 2006

The 2006 vintage shaped up as another high quality year but with only average yields in the Adelaide Hills. After a late break in mid-June of last year, winter and spring rains were some of the best for years in the lead-up to flowering in early summer. Some varieties suffered from poor set, leading to ‘hen and chicken’. Although there was virtually no rain after Christmas, the summer was mild with southerly winds, reminiscent of 2002. The vines were vigorous and lush at first but slowly underwent mild stress during berry development, helping to keep the berry size small, an important factor for red wine quality. Brief heat waves occurred in late January and mid-February but were early enough not to affect quality.

The vintage was one of the earliest on record; whites were nearly all picked by the end of March. After a warmer than usual spell in late March, a significant and unseasonal torrential rainfall event of 50mm occurred on Sunday 26 March delaying harvest and causing concern with split and botrytis. With the weather fining up again, picking continued with our pinot noir from Lenswood. The quality was fabulous. Further rain and wintry weather after Easter delayed harvest of the late-ripening varieties such as merlot and cabernet sauvignon and promoted unwanted opportunistic fungal and botrytis development. With no warm or dry weather in sight, the last of the bedraggled Lenswood merlot and cabernet was picked, between showers, in early May.

Adelaide Hills – 2005

Vintage 2005 was early with exceptional quality and good yields.Above average winter rains led into a beautiful spring, with some early November frosts but good flowering weather in late November and early December. Summer was wet and wild, with an amazing roller-coaster of weekly thunderstorms that helped maintain good subsoil moisture. Rains in January were followed by a dry February, and the dry weather continued right through the autumn. Warmer than usual autumnal weather caused an early, compact harvest of above average yields. The late Indian summer lasted into May, well after all the fruit was harvested with colour, flavour and maturity figures not seen before the 2002 vintage.The quality of the 2005 vintage is sure to be ranked as one of the best on record, after 2002, with all varieties showing strongly. The signature varieties for Adelaide Hills, ie, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, performed brilliantly.

Adelaide Hills – 2004

The average winter rainfall this season was a welcome relief after 2003’s fourth-worst drought in history. The soil profile was filled at last, as were most growers’ dams. A wet, warm and thundery spring followed, which created a natural ‘greenhouse’ effect for the vines. They grew vigorously, flowered and in general set a large crop. December was the hottest for 10 years, however at the start of 2004 the weather became mild and windy, tempered by the cool southerlies off the ocean. The month of January was the coolest since 1992 and the vines thrived. New records were broken during February with South Australia experiencing its hottest day ever. Fortunately March returned the region to glorious sunny days and cold dewy nights, with a couple of minor rain events, allowing the fruit to ripen under perfect conditions.

Adelaide Hills – 2003

2003 was one of the worst droughts in history, with rainfall at only 70% of the previous year. This left the soil moisture profiles and dams lower than at the start of winter. Spring was frosty and windy, but not overly wet. The hot, dry and windy weather during summer caused some stress, which resulted in smaller berries and a reduced crop. This season has often been likened to 1983, which is obviously remembered more for the horrors of Ash Wednesday than the drought. Then as the vines struggled with the hot, dry conditions, the heavens opened. Not just a sprinkle, a serious rain event of around 75mm over 24 hours causing some split fruit. The country turned green overnight and the split grapes shrivelled up. This year must surely go down on record as being one of our hottest, driest and windiest summers leading to a smaller vintage of very good quality. Another vintage for the record books!

Adelaide Hills – 2002

The year 2002 goes down as being the coolest, windiest ‘non-summer’ on record, following on from our hottest summer on record in 2001. It was preceded by a wet winter and a spring that was cold, wet and windy. The drizzly cold weather affected the flowering and caused poor fruit set, commonly known as ‘hen and chicken’, leading to a reduced yield. The season was two to three weeks late due to the unseasonable cold weather. With the smaller crop level, the balance of sugar, flavour and natural acidity in the fruit were excellent. Despite the smaller crop 2002 was one of our most exceptional vintages ever, helped by the warm dry Indian summer autumn period, providing sensational colours, flavours and ageing potential.

Adelaide Hills – 2001

The season began with good winter and spring rains. Good set at flowering continued on to one of our hottest summers on record. Occasional timely thunderstorms arrived to maintain the humidity with a few millimetres of wonderful rain. Vintage began two to three weeks early. The arrival of milder autumnal weather provided average yields and excellent wine quality. The year particularly highlights the tenacity of riesling in the hills.

Adelaide Hills – 2000

The 2000 vintage was small and early. Another drought winter, frost at the end of October, poor flower development in spring and the unseasonal cool temperatures in late October/early November led to low yields. This was compounded by high summer temperatures and a large amount of rain at the end of February – 100mm of rain over 24 hours due to a tropical cyclone up north – causing some splitting of fruit. Overall, the whites were delicate with good flavour intensity while the reds were only average quality.

Adelaide Hills – 1999

The latter part of spring led into one of the hottest summers on record, with virtually no rain. The drought conditions resulted in smaller berry size assisting the concentration of the pinot noir and merlot. Tropical cyclones Elaine and Vance brought unseasonal rains in mid-March. Careful handpicking provided excellent quality fruit with average yields.

Adelaide Hills – 1998

The preceding winter was unusually dry, with frosty nights and clear days. The rain instead came in spring, and the luxuriantly growing vines benefited from the greenhouse effect. The indicators were of a hot dry summer, although only a serious burst of heat was experienced in mid-January and again at the end of February; otherwise it was a mild summer, which had a significant delaying effect on the ripening process. An early onset of autumn caused a late harvest, with average yields, good to excellent quality and intense flavour in the grapes.

Adelaide Hills – 1997

A wet winter with average rainfall. A mild, dry spring leading to excellent growth, good set and vigour. Late September spring frosts caused significant damage with losses of up to 30%. One of the hottest summers on record with the hottest two-week period in February recorded since 1910. Despite rain during summer causing some splitting and mildew, it was a godsend to the old dry-grown vines beginning to feel the lack of water. A mild finish to the season ensured excellent ripening conditions and accumulation of colour and flavour.