Vintages

The Hunter Valley is the first region in Australian wine to begin vintage and also the first to finish. 
Every vintage imparts a special footprint on each wine, telling a distinctive and individual story each year.

2019 Vintage

The Hunter Valley experienced a mostly dry winter with regular rainfall throughout September. This, in conjunction with a focus our Viticulturalist on creating a sustainable environment within the Mount Pleasant vineyards – mulch, cover crops etc which has resulted in some of the healthiest vines on the estate in recent years. Vines have been developing great canopies, especially the Lovedale vineyard which has assisted greatly in warding off sunburn of fruit. Fruit came in on schedule for the most part and is looking expressive with healthy sized bunches and no disease pressure across all sites.

This years’ standout in terms of quality is the Lovedale vineyard. It has been picked at low baumes, fully ripe and with great acidity. Already in tank the wines are showing elements of the traditional lemongrass characters that are endemic of Lovedale with the winemaking team already pinning this as the best Lovedale seen in recent times.

The Mothervine Pinot Noir has come off softer and quite elegant this year with softer tannins setting the base for a different yet resoundingly pretty style of Pinot coming from the 2019 vintage.

The Shiraz that has been harvested are showing higher baumes and a ripeness than standard for the Hunter which is anticipated to deliver wines a bit richer than usual. However, the fruit is still showing excellent Hunter Valley characters that will deliver the medium bodied style that the wines are so well known for.

The team are consistently impressed by the old vine fruit that has stayed the course through the adverse conditions to deliver stunning fruit from across the estate. The broad and full canopies are really assisting in the fantastic development of the fruit with tannin and flavour all coming through beautifully with this fruit. All hallmarks of these amazing vines.

There are a number of patches left to harvest as of 15 February, including 1946 Shiraz vines from Rosehill as well as the Sagrentino, Mencia and Vermentino some of which are coming online for the very first season.

A patch that has been dormant for a number of years that will also be ready to harvest soon is the 1968 Shiraz vines on the Rosehill site. These vines are looking particularly impressive and hold a special place in the heart of our winemaking team as they were planted by Brian Walsh, protegee of Maurice O’Shea and Ex-Chief Winemaker who sadly left us on 12 February 2019 – he was 89. Brian would have been incredibly pleased with the beautiful fruit these vines have delivered to Mount Pleasant this vintage and the team look forward to seeing the wines they will create.

The sites that have been standout this vintage include both the Old Hill and Old Paddock blocks, the Pinot Noir which is looking more juicy and softer which will offer a great option for blending and as stand alone Mothervine. The stand out of the vintage so far have been the old vine material on the Lovedale site.

The last two vintages have all seen great success and 2019 will be no exception. All standouts in their own way, the 2019 vintage is looking very similar to that of 2013.

To date the site has processed 250 tonnes of fruit which is 10% up from the 2018 vintage and there are still a number of blocks to harvest. The increase in fruit has a lot to do with newer sites that are coming online (Vermentino, Mencia, Block 4 Old Hill Shiraz) plus the reinvigoration of the 1968 Shiraz vines on the Rosehill block.

 

2018 Vintage

A wonderful season, but interestingly polar opposites to what we experienced for our 2017 vintage. This year we saw a dry Winter and wet Spring, which was in contrast to 2017’s wet Winter and dry Spring. It will be interesting to see the differences in wine styles from the two different growing seasons.

Lead up to vintage saw a dry Winter and continued conditions saw an earlier than usual budburst which was a concern for frost, but fine weather ensured these events didn’t occur. The team was thrilled to receive the much needed Spring showers that gave canopies across all vineyards a real boost, in turn providing the ideal level of coverage for fruit development and protection from the warmer weather to come.

The lead up to vintage 2018 was warm and dry which resulted in us starting a week earlier than average. The first fruit to come in was our Homestead Chardonnay that came in on the 8 January, followed by our Pinot Noir and then Semillon from the Lovedale vineyard. Shiraz from the Old Paddock, Old Hill and Rosehill were next, before finishing up with our Sagrantino at the back end of February.

While there was a bit of a slow start ripeness wise, the warmer Hunter weather remedied this so crops that were lagging behind soon played catch up. The lovely long, warm days throughout vintage ensured ripeness to even out across all varieties and allowed us to pick at optimum sugar and flavour levels. This has resulted in wonderful concentration of flavours that we are already anticipating to be the base for some excellent wines.

While the tonnage seemed to be on the lighter side this year, the fruit we were pulling in was consistently of excellent quality which you are always thrilled to see as a Winemaker. The Semillon is already displaying evidence of intense flavours with rich and ripe elements complimented by softer acids. The Shiraz we’ve seen keeps true to the Hunter Valley style, wonderfully medium bodied and fruit driven with intense flavours. Our stand outs from this early stage are definitely our Lovedale Semillon along with our OP&OH and Rosehill Shiraz. It will be exciting to see how these wines develop in barrel, tank and bottle to bring this vintage to life. Overall, Vintage 2018 will go down as another classic year in Mount Pleasant and the Hunter Valley.

Read the Mount Pleasant 2018 Vintage Snapshot

 

2017 Vintage

An excellent year in the Hunter Valley. Dry throughout the growing season, the vineyards burst early but a cool spring slowed the growth periods, meaning ripening was around 2-3 weeks later than recent harvests. December saw warm weather with average rainfall allowing for healthy and clean canopies giving excellent ripening conditions. January and February saw significantly lower than average rainfall conditions which meant ripening was even and let the team have the ability to pick fruit at its optimum ripeness. The Semillon blocks were picked slightly riper than normal due to the warm weather, with excellent power and flavour levels at slightly higher Baumes than average. The Shiraz blocks all ripened beautifully with excellent flavour concentration. The Estate blocks came in first with intensity and colour the hallmark of these darker fruited wines. Rosehill was the last fruit to be picked, with the old vines standing up again, producing wines with finesse and grace.

 

2016 Vintage

The lead up to 2016 was superb, beautiful cool and dry conditions throughout veraison providing excellent clean and healthy fruit and canopies. Extensive hail damage to our Rosehill vineyard in December 2015 meant there will be no wines from this vineyard for 2016. The wettest January since 1972 followed, testing winemakers patience, with picking pushed back to see this period out. The impact was seen across our red blocks, with many canopies shutting down and concerns that the fruit would ripen sufficiently. After this the driest February on record saved most of the vineyards, with Picking 1-2 weeks behind average with lower than normal crops. The grapes were then predominantly hand-picked to ensure only the best fruit was taken and the resultant wines clean and fresh. The Old Hill Shiraz vines showed their true character with wonderful fruit and exceptional power. The Semillon vines at Lovedale held and produced some alluring fine wines.

 

2015 Vintage

A tough vintage for certain areas of the valley. Rainfall was high, typical of what the Hunter can deliver, but the amazing ability of the vines to withstand these rain events truly astounds. The lead up to harvest was great, cool conditions, dry and lovely fruit set led to great crops at an average yield. The rainfall throughout vintage tested winemakers, with careful selective picking required to ensure the highest quality was achieved.

Read the Mount Pleasant 2015 Vineyard Report

 

2014 Vintage

After the hot dry end to 2013, near perfect January weather has resulted in an outstanding vintage of intensity and wonderful balance. The whites are pristine & pure, with great length & line while the flavour packed reds are showing early signs of a superb year in the Hunter Valley. The best red vintage in 50 years. The Mount Pleasant Shiraz quickly followed the Semillon, revealing tremendous colour and flavour from the onset. Both the ‘Old Hill’ (Planted 1880) and the ‘Old Paddock’ (planted 1921) being the stars off the estate. Rosehill Shiraz was last, but by no means least. Lovely perfume & spice coupled with fruit intensity & perfect structure, sees Rosehill vying for ‘line honours’ in a great vintage for Hunter Shiraz.

Arguably, one of the greatest red vintages in living memory.

Read the Mount Pleasant 2014 Vineyard Report

 

2013 Vintage

Heavy rainfall early in 2012 followed by an extremely dry Spring reduced yields, but certainly not quality. Harvest commenced mid January with most Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Semillon picked before the late Summer rain set in. The Shiraz ripened slowly and will produce some outstanding red wines. Overall 2013 vintage was excellent.

Read the 2013 Winemaking Report

Read the 2013 Vineyard Report

Read the Vintage 2013 in Review

 

2012 Vintage

The 2012 vintage will be remembered as a vintage of two halves, before and after the rain. The Semillon and Chardonnay harvested prior to the rain event provided classic style and quality. A mild Summer and heavy rains in mid/late January dampened development of the Shiraz, and as a result not all premium ranges of the varietal are likely to be produced. Pinot Noir was harvested with terrific colour, richness and texture proving vine age has its advantages in the Hunter’s unique weather conditions.

 

2011 Vintage

Excellent growing conditions creating a near perfect harvest. The fruit reached optimal ripeness with absolutely no disease. The fruit quality was excellent.

 

2010 Vintage

An early ripening year with warm dry conditions prior to picking meant rapid sugar and flavour development throughout the first few weeks of January. The growing conditions were mild with no disease pressure for the early picked varieties.

 

2009 Vintage

A very good growing period with above average winter and spring rainfall resulted in an excellent crop. Late December in 2008 was very dry and early January 2009 was both dry and hot. All Shiraz blocks ripened evenly with small berries providing power and concentration of flavours and colour. The grapes were carefully handpicked in the cool morning to retain freshness and ensure quality.

 

2008 Vintage

An extremely challenging vintage with rain and floods ensuring very little red grapes were picked (no flagships were produced from Mount Pleasant this vintage).

 

2007 Vintage

Excellent growing season with dry warm days before picking meant the grapes from the Old Hill and Old Paddock vineyards were in outstanding condition. The grapes were carefully handpicked in the cool morning period to retain freshness and ensure quality.

 

2006 Vintage

Vintage 2006 followed the dry winter of 2005 with some supplemental irrigation required to provide an even budburst. The dry conditions abated somewhat with relieving rains in October which supported the vines during flowering and good rainfall during November led to an excellent fruit set. Although early December was mild, late December and January were hot and extremely dry with record temperatures recorded between Christmas and New Year. The hot and windy conditions continued throughout vintage. The hot weather reduced the yield and acid levels however this allowed excellent colour development in all red varieties and especially fruit from old vines which had developed thick dark coloured skins in the early heat, colour which persisted into the fermented wines.

 

2005 Vintage

The growing season leading up to the 2005 vintage was excellent with cool to mild growing conditions and excellent, even rainfall. December saw cool conditions, ideal for veraison and the development of cooler climate fruit characters. January saw warm days, coupled with cool nights providing excellent conditions for the completion of veraison and ripening. The vintage was one of the most rapid on record with almost all varieties ripening simultaneously, a result of the excellent growing conditions and difference in diurnal temperatures.

 

2004 Vintage

Following the extreme drought of 2003, the vineyards were in full recovery mode for the 2003/4 growing season. An early bud burst through the cool August and an unusually cool September set up a long growing and, therefore, ripening season. This trend continued during October and November but these months also brought timely and relieving rainfall which filled the soil profile with an ideal level of moisture. The month of December saw an increase in temperatures and low rainfall providing warm, dry growing conditions free of disease pressures. The 2004 vintage was an outstanding year for white varieties, Semillon and Chardonnay in particular, with wines showing excellent depth and length of flavour as well as excellent structure.

 

2003 Vintage

The growing season prior to the 2003 vintage was dominated by the worst drought on record since 1902. Spring rainfall was virtually negligible with the only useful rainfall recorded in December. This resulted in excellent ripening conditions producing white wines rich in fruit flavour but maintaining an attractive balanced acidity.

 

2002 Vintage

The pre-budburst period (winter and spring) was extremely dry and required substantial irrigation. The only month during vintage to record good rainfall was November – which was a blessing considering the hot and windy conditions that followed in December, and resulted in severe bushfire damage in the Hunter Valley’s southern regions and in Sydney. The heat stress period was not as severe as the previous year, with again milder conditions and heavy rainfall experienced during harvest.

 

2001 Vintage

The autumn and winter months prior to budburst saw a return to below average rainfall conditions, which continued into the early spring. Fortunately, the cool and mild weather reduced evaporative loss and enabled irrigation to be effective. This led to excellent flowering and fruit set. However, good yields were reduced somewhat by a heatwave from Christmas to late January. These record temperatures were followed by periods of rain during harvest.

 

2000 Vintage

The autumn, winter and spring of 1999 followed a similar pattern to the previous year, with good rainfall patterns and generally mild conditions. This cool weather pattern continued into the summer months with good rainfall periods and continual cloud cover, which alleviated heat stress problems normally associated with the later part of the growing season. This pattern continued into the new millennium with one short period of warm to hot weather during late January. The result was rapid ripening of all varieties, with harvest beginning on the 24th January and completed on the 25th February – one of the shortest vintages on record. The amazing harvest parameters were the highlight of this vintage, with rapid ripening to satisfactory sugar levels, while still retaining high levels of natural acidity.

 

1999 Vintage

The wettest autumn and winter period for 20 years, which resulted in a return to satisfactory subsoil measures so badly affected by years of below average rainfall. Budburst in August was met with consistent heavy rain, which caused flooding in Sydney’s south but resulted in an even and fruitful budburst in the Hunter Valley. Further rain periods during spring and early summer, coupled with unseasonably cool weather, produced even flowering and fruit set. These mild conditions continued into the harvest period with intermittent rainfall delaying and extending the vintage. The vintage produced whites with great depth of flavour supported by excellent acidity, which gave the final wines good length and maturing potential.

 

1998 Vintage

This vintage was acclaimed Australia-wide as the best of the 1990s. In the Hunter Valley, it was certainly the best vintage experienced for several decades (even eclipsing the outstanding 1996 vintage). The growing season started perfectly with excellent soil moisture levels from the summer and autumn of 1997. In early summer, the weather turned dry and hot, which made for a disease-free growing period right up until harvest. This resulted in rapid ripening, high sugar levels and concentration of fruit flavour, due to the reduced juice-to-skin ratio.

 

1997 Vintage

This vintage saw a return to cool, mild conditions with consistent rainfall during the growing season. Conditions were similar to those experienced in 1984 and 1988, with delayed ripening due to a larger crop. Vigilance was required to maintain crop protection programs and correctly time harvest. The result was a wine with more intense herbaceous characters and crisper acidity.

 

1996 Vintage

This was a truly outstanding vintage in the Hunter Valley, with adequate rainfall in autumn, spring and summer breaking the 1995 drought. This rainfall led to a better than expected flowering and fruit set, with the highest yields from the vineyards since 1979. Dry, warm conditions during harvest resulted in excellent ripening parameters and flavour concentration.

 

1995 Vintage

Grapes were picked early to mid-February. A drought year with little winter rains, which greatly reduced yields, but allowed for grapes of concentration and intensity.