Grape Expectations – 2015 Vintage Report

Grape ExpectationsWe take a look at what’s been happening in the 2015 vintage in the Southern Hemisphere.

South AfricaSouth Africa

• Earliest vintage in decades

• Yields down, quality very promising

• A dream for winemakers

Many producers started harvesting a whole 10 days earlier than usual on average. Although yields are down by 3 - 5%, quality is looking to be exceptional and reminiscent of the great 2009 vintage. Tertius Boshoff, winemaker at Stellenrust remarked, “What amazes me is how the relatively cool approach to summer, yet utterly dry summer, can still deliver these lovely grapes we got in.“

If 2014 was more of a winemaker’s year, 2015 is the year of the vineyard. An absolute winemaker’s dream.






• Excellence as standard

• Consistency across the board

• Whites more elegant than last year

Famed for its consistency, Chile has delivered excellence across the board once again in 2015. Little rain during the ripening season and medium temperatures produced a crop that is 5 to 10% over the average. Grapes were harvested a week earlier than in 2014. Wines are expected to be more balanced than last year with more elegance, if a little less concentration.

We're expecting great things from those regions famed for finesse, such as Atacama, Leyda and Apalta.





New Zealand

New Zealand

• Long dry ripening season

• Low yield, high quality harvest

• Competition will be fierce

Marlborough is likely to be 20 - 30% down on 2014 (which was a large harvest) and around 15% down on a “normal” harvest. It has been extremely dry in New Zealand with no rain since Christmas, which has led to water rights being switched off. Some producers have even had to resort to buying water from each other. However, this long dry sunny ripening season has provided a very good quality crop but the low yields mean competition and demand will be fierce.








• Generally excellent across the board

• Low yields and high quality in Margaret River

• Weak Aussie $ means more competitive pricing

Altogether Australia looks a good bet across the board. Yields were average or slightly below with a few erratic weather conditions but nothing serious

Notably it was a very early vintage in Margaret River (around 3 weeks earlier than normal) that started in mid-January with whites. The result is low yield but very good quality.

Bad bush fires in the Adelaide Hills area has caused some concerns about smoke taint which is being monitored

The weak Australian dollar against the pound ensures some stability and good offers in the market place, but Barossa remains highly popular with strong demand from China and domestically.





• An EXCEPTIONAL harvest

• Complexity and concentration

It's been a fantastic vintage every way. Sunshine was plentiful and rainfall low, while cool breezes from the Atlantic softened the high temperatures. This allowed the healthy grapes to achieve excellent ripeness, which developed great complexity of flavours and fruit/floral aromas. The winter was especially cold, so the pruning was carried out under complete dormancy, i.e. optimum conditions.

Since conditions during spring and summer were excellent, the harvest for all varieties took place 10-15 days earlier than last year.  It began on January 28th with Pinot Grigio and was followed by the rest of white grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Viognier. The harvest was complete in early April with the late ripening red varieties of Petit Verdot and Tannat.







• Magnificent for Malbec

• Low yields were key

• Excellent for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

The best Malbecs of the vintage have a refinement and elegance that only occurs in very cool years. These characteristics were due to a warm winter followed by a perfectly cool summer and 10-50% more rain than usual in the early harvest months. The vintage will be similar to 2001, when rains provoked a great deal of fear but which resulted in particularly age-worthy wines.

Key to success was low-yield farming. There was diversity depending on soil types. The areas with deeper sandy soils, which usually give excellent quality, did not perform as well. However Malbec planted in stony and limestone soils were undisputed superstars. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir also performed beautifully. 

5th August 2015

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