• James-Paul Marin

Vintage 22 Report: Summer of El Niño

Updated: Jun 1


I was asked how vintage has been for me this year so I thought I would share with you. In short, this vintage was a mixed bag for me.


In South Australia, the yields were above the 10-year average, with the quality broadly impressive. However grape prices were down (about 5-10%) due to softer demand especially for reds (not a bad thing for a winemaker who buys in their fruit each year), as the industry simply sits on higher inventory levels until


our sluggish export demand improves or China steps back into the market.


Remember #stopthesqueeze? This was the period when China imposed tariffs on Australian wine to the tune of 107% to 212% killing our export industry overnight and unfortunately not much has changed.


According to Wine Australia's early report, red wine volumes are actually down about 20% while whites are down 2% compared to the bumper 2021 vintage. Speaking to my McLaren Vale growers, they note 2022 was a better season than 2021 with favourable weather conditions for growing grapes; a consistent and cooler season with lower picking pressures made the harvest easier to manage.


Personally, I found myself flying in


to Adelaide slightly earlier than I anticipated this year, with the traditional 'ringing of the bells' marking vintage commencement, happening on February 24. Normally, crushing continues to the end of April. My vintage ended up being one of the most 'condensed' vintages in my 20+ years of winemaking. Our last crush occurred mid-March, compared to around the middle of April last year.


It is early days with resultant juice/wine looking good. The question I have, is will the quality be better than the exceptional 202


1 vintage? Only time will tell.


In New South Wales, (in the Shoalhaven Wine Region on the South Coast) spring sprang early causing me to request my vine cuttings from Yalumba to be sent across ASAP. I scrambled to plant the vines and get the irrigation in to ensure they weren't going to be thirsty but I really shouldn't have bothered. The whole East Coast of Australia was hit by torrential rains and flooding and my delicate toddler (one year old) vines were swimming.


The rain pushed yields down by about 30%, but again the region's quality was excellent. Clever observers made the decision to pick slightly earlier, taking account of unfriendly long range weather forecasts (read months


and months of rain thanks to El Niño). Although this fruit was necessarily lower in baume (sugar level), the results upon my return were lighter, brighter, lower alcohol wines with great finesse.


Unfortunately, not all my toddler vines survived and the Chardonnay will need to be replanted this spring but the Syrah is looking good.


Looking forward to vintage 2023, a little more sunshine and a lot less rain would certainly allow for growth and stability in the vin


eyard. Let's hope it's not just wishful thinking!


Cheers - JP





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