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A Quick Look At The Wines Of 2013

By Alex Russell on October 23, 2013 in Food

Photo: Peter Lehmann Wines

Photo: Peter Lehmann Wines

Now that 2013 wines are starting to appear, how was the vintage?

South Australia
South Australia was dry and hot. Dry can be good (less disease, fungus etc.), but vines need water to grow. While some were irrigated, in general, the yields are down. What got through, though, was very good. The wines that are now appearing from South Australia include Riesling from Clare and Eden (both looking spectacular, but limited) and Sauvignon Blanc from various regions.

The annual Grosset Riesling release occurred in August. There was so much demand that the site was flooded with orders and the Polish Hill Riesling was all gone in less than 45 minutes.

From a previous vintage, consider the 2012 Peter Lehmann H&V Barossa Semillon. It’s a sensational drop at around $22, as is the 2013 H&V Eden Valley Riesling. As a side note, Peter (he once told me never to call him Mr. Lehmann) died a couple of months ago, resulting in some of the most amazing tributes I’ve ever seen. He is sorely missed.

Western Australia
The Classic Dry White style (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and perhaps a smidge of other things) from 2013 will be flying into bottle shops, bars and restaurants over the next few months and they are looking pretty good. Unlike SA, parts of WA received rain, but at the wrong time, also resulting in somewhat reduced yields. Keep an eye out for some great Rieslings (Howard Park and Leeuwin Estate being two of my favourites) and, though you won’t see them for a while, the Chardonnays are also looking great by all reports.

New South Wales/ACT
Remember those 40-plus degree days last summer? Yep, the grapes copped a bit of that too. However, the Hunter Semillons are, by all reports, looking sensational (or ‘semsational’ as they like to say). The Thomas Braemore is picking up praise, as are the Tyrrell’s drops, and there are plenty of others to keep an eye out for too. Get on them early and put a few away in the cellar five or so years.

Canberra, along with Hilltops and Tumbarumba, was pretty protected from all of the heat. It’ll certainly be worth checking out wines from these regions. For now, try the Clonakilla Viognier Nouveau (~$28) – a crisp, refreshing style of Viognier that is getting great reviews everywhere. Also look for Riesling from Canberra and Chardonnay from Tumbarumba.

The Yarra had a tough vintage, with yields way down due to virtually no rain and some very hot days (Pinot Noir, a Yarra staple, doesn’t like heat). However, there were some lucky breaks and despite low yields the Pinot Noir that is released will be pretty bloody good. It won’t be out for a while though.

As for the rest of Victoria, it was a bit of a mixed bag. The Mornington Peninsula got warm pretty late, but it should be okay.

Over the last few years, not a lot of Tassie white has made it to the mainland because of low crops. 2013 was the largest Tassie crop in the last five or so years, so you might be able to snag some very good Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. The Pinot Noirs should also look good when they are released, particularly from around the Tamar. There were some fire (and therefore smoke taint) issues, but these appear to have been minimised.

The Reds
It’s a bit early to tell what the 2013 reds will look like as they’re still developing, but Margaret River Cabernets, reds from Canberra and Hilltops, Northern Tassie Pinot Noir and Heathcote Reds are all looking amazing. As for South Australian reds, it seems to depend on whether they got enough water or not. Only time will tell.