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Vintages

2021-2022

The cool and wet of the previous year has continued into the spring of 2021. Our vines burst very early - September 16th, but then effectively stopped for 2 weeks as cool wet weather prevailed.  They started their growth apace around the 1st of October - the typical time for budburst. Substantive rain events have continued through mid-october, but we have this far controlled disease well, and the vines are looking good. 

2020-2021

The rain that ended the fire season of 2019/20 continued through winter with a full-on La Nina weather pattern keeping things cool and moist. Budburst started around the first of October as per normal, and the vines developed well given the abundance of moisture. Regular rains, moderate temperatures, with a warm November gave us flowering towards the end of November. But it was clear the torrid 2019/2020 season had left its mark, with low numbers of flowers on an otherwise beautiful canopy. The mild weather and rains continued for the entirety of the year, with Veraison achieved around February 10th. We were very diligent with our spray regime throughout the year, and had almost no disease, which was just as well, because as the grapes ripened, and just before we were planning to pick, a 3 day rain event dumped a 105mm of rain onto the vines. We held our nerve, and waited 2 weeks through perfect weather, and picked on April 5th. While we only picked 850kg of fruit, at least it was ripe and very very tasty. Wines are very light in colour, but have a substantial palate. The wines will be reflective of the cool vintage, but are certainly not light or frail.    Veraison Feb 10th 2021, Vintage April 5th 2021. (Mean temperature during ripening 16.1C)

 

2019-2020

The year started off hot and dry and got worse from there - being an unprecedented season as each day passed. We ran out of water trying to keep the vineyard alive through January, and this severely restricted the growth of the vineyard (and the 2021 crop). But that was not the worst of it, it was the fires that engulfed the whole area around us that destroyed the vintage for all of the district by smoke taint. The rain came in February, finally ending the fires and filling the dams, but the year was a write-off for us, and for everyone else in the district. No Vintage for the Canberra District.

2018-2019

With a fence to keep the kangaroos out of the vineyard, budburst for 2018/19 vintage started off on schedule around October 1st without incident. It was a much dryer than average winter, but of relatively normal temperature, but things warmed up quickly in mid October. Given the lack of rain and warm temperatures, we needed to start watering early. Flowering was typical in the 2nd-half of November, with temperatures warmish, but in the zone of normality. We received some much needed rain starting in mid-December, but the warmish weather turned to extreme in January with Maipenrai hitting 40C for the first time in its history on January 16th. January had 21 days as Maipenrai over 30C - by far the hottest month we have ever had! With water we kept the vineyard happy - and this type of heat made the berries small, and slowed the growing season down a bit so that veraison (when grapes turn colour) happened at a fairly typical time of Feb 2nd. The ripening period was much more civilised with respect to temperature -  warm compared to normal- but not hot. We picked a 2.5tonnes of grapes on March 17th, and purchased another 1.6 tonnes from a vineyard on Lake George. The wines look to be long-lived with some licorice and savoury notes, with firmer (but not over-powering) than average tannins. We also made our first barrel of Shiraz-Viognier from our vineyard and some fruit from Lake George - an interesting experiment for us. Veraison 2 February 2019, Vintage 17 March 2019. (Mean temperature during ripening 19.0C)

2017-2018

The 2017/18 vintage started off with dry winter with normal temperatures. Because 2017 had been quite wet, water stress was not particularly acute given the lack of rain. Budburst occurred around 1st of October as per usual, but disaster struck Maipenrai as the very abundant numbers of kangaroos had no grass to eat, and resorted to munching on the emerging shoots in the vineyard. Essentially every plant was eaten, and while the green growth returned, these new shoots had essentially no fruiting buds on them, and the year’s crop was a complete loss. For the rest of the district, 2018 remained significantly warmer than the historical average throughout spring, with very little rain, until a major deluge in December provided much needed moisture.  The heat continued throughout summer and autumn – although it was in the form of being consistently hotter than average, rather than being savagely hot.  This entire period was accompanied by lower than average rainfall. In the end 2018 was, after 2016, and 2007, the 3rd hottest growing season in Canberra’s history. Like 2016, it was a relatively gentle heat, that produced very good wines throughout the district. Given our lack of fruit, we purchased Pinot Noir from 3 district vineyards located on our Lake George side of town. The wines in barrel show deep ruby colours, silky tannins, and should produce some high class pinot noir. No Vintage at Maipenrai

2016-2017

The wettest spring in memory, the vines got a great start in a cool/mild spring, that turned warm by December. January was the hottest on record and dry with the conditions contunuing through the first half of February. We ended up losing a lot of the fruit that had set on the vines due to lack of water. The weather moderated mid February with the ripening period post veraison picture perfect, with mild temperatures, not much rain - but just enough to keep things ticking a long. We had a very low crop again off the vineyard, and purchased some outstanding fruit from two nearby vineyards. The 2017 wines have a lot of flavour and ample tannin due to the heat/water stress as the berries formed. They should be long-lived wines in the fuller-bodied form. Veraison 14 February, Vintage 1 April 2017 (Mean Temperature during ripening 18.5C)

2015-2016

2015/16 season started off with good spring rains, typical temperatures, and therefore a welcome return to an October 1st budburst. From there the weather suddenly became abnormally warm, with temperatures in the 30s in the first week of October, with the October average high temps more than 5C warmer than the long-term average - smashing the previous records. The warmth continued through mid December with Temps 3C warmer than average during this period, and we, unfortunately, received very little rain. This caused some unwelcome water stress in our vines and reaked havoc with our yields (down by a factor of 10 compared to the year previous). The weather moderated from mid-December through mid February, and while still above average, was more or less in the zone of normality. We also got some much needed rain, and avoided some of the hail that was about. Things heated up again in mid Feb through vintage. We picked 500kg (uggh!) of fruit on March 13th, but purchased another 4.5 tonnes of fruit from two nearby vineyards. The fruit from the cooler of these two vineyards was spectacular and makes me think what might have been had we got more water onto the vines in November. Overall, for what could have been a terrible El Nino year, like 2003 and 2007, turned out producing very high quality fruit, even if most of it is not from our own vineyard. We used a fair bit of whole bunches this year - 50% for our own fruit! Veraison 1 Feb, Vintage 13 March 2016. (Mean Temperature during ripening 20.7C)

2014-2015

The 2014/15 season started off, compared to last year, with a normal winter and spring, albeit a bit dry. Budburst occurred the last week of September, slightly early, but not atypical. October was cool, with a small amount of rain, but enough to keep the vines happy. A heatwave started at the end of October and lasted for nearly a month. November was much warmer than usual (37.4C on November 23rd was the warmest day of the entire vintage)- and there was just enough rain to carry the vines through. With an El Nino predicted, it looked like it could be a hot savage summer, but then December came along, the temperatures moderated, the rain fell, and the vines exploded with growth. A huge fruit set - not just on our vines, but throughout the district -  meant we had to remove excess fruit - a welcome change to the previous 5 vintages!  The temperature never exceeded 33C throughout December and January and 200mm of rain was recorded - not all at once, but in good regular falls. Veraison started very early, but took more than 2 weeks to finish. February was warm and dry - perfect for ripening the grapes. We picked 5.5 tonnes of close to perfect fruit on March 15th - our largest crop ever (but still only 2.2 tonnes/acre). Vinification was very easy for these wines, and we used approximately 30% whole bunches given the ripeness of the stems. The wines exhibit moderately deep colour, and it looks like the wines should be both complex, but with lots of fruit. Certainly a very good year, somewhat reminiscient of 2008. Veraison 28 January, Vintage 15 March 2015. (Mean Temperature during ripening 18.4C)

2013-2014

The 2013/14 started off with a wet June with more than 90mm of rain and regular frosts. July and August were dry, and much warmer than average. Starting in the last week of August we had an unprecedent run of warm weather which saw budburst commence a month early, and 3 weeks earlier than ever before on the 7th of September. More typical weather soon returned, and the grapes stopped growing, keeping only the first leaves out to the early spring weather.  September also saw very good rainfall, but the strange start had done its damage, with essentially no fruit set. October through December remained very cool, but very dry, and then in January, while the rain didn't start, temperatures sored, with 8 days between 37C and 39C. Veraison (of the few grapes that were on the vines) occurred the first week of February, but because of lack of fruit, we decided not to net the vineyard. Instead, we have purchased fruit from two nearby vineyards. The heat was largely before veraison, and our purchased fruit came with relatively thick skins and small berries, but was ripenend in almost picture perfect conditions. Some unwanted rain at the end of March did affect the higher elevation vineyard just before picking, but not too adversely.  Veraison 5 February 2014, No Vintage at Maipenrai

2012-2013

The 2012/13 Growing Season started with the most soil moisture we had seen over the past decade. A coolish spring delayed budburst until the first week of October, and the vines were further slowed by a significant snow and rain storm on the 12th of October. However, from that point out, fine and moderate conditions prevailed so that we had a very even flowering of the vines in the first week of December. By Christmas, after 6 weeks of no precipitation, the vines were beginning to be constrained by lack of moisture, and a very welcome 50mm fell around Christmas. Starting after the New Year, the moderate conditions which prevailed earlier on changed to become very hot, with many 30-38C days in January, including the hottest day we have ever had at our Vineyard- 38.9C. As February came upon us, the weather has thankfully moderated, with some well needed rain. Mid veraison occurred on February 8th - a typical date. We picked under perfect conditions on March 17th - although our yields were very low - about 1.1 tonnes off the Hectare of vines.  Veraison 8 February 2013, Vintage 17 March 2013. (Mean Temp during ripening 18.7C)

2011-2012

The 2011/12 Growing Season started off with an abundance of soil moisture after our very wet 2011 Vintage. We came through most of winter with relatively normal weather. Unseasonably warm temperatures in mid-September followed by a cold snap at the beginning of October caused an extended bud break over the first week of October. After bud break and through November, the weather was warm, with several 30C days in November and dryish conditions. The end of November saw a large rain event, followed by an unusally cool December (no 30C days in December), and cool January (coldest ever January temperature of 1.6C recorded on January 12th). During this period Maipenrai received only a modest amount of rain. The summer was unusual for the large number of cloudy days, leading to higher than usual humidity, and low daytime temperatures. Cool weather continued through February, with the grapes going through Veraison approximately February 7th. The end of February saw a huge rain event which dumped approximately 250mm on our vines. Sporadic rain showers interspersed with some sunny cool days kept the grapes ripening slowly but steadily. We managed to completely control disease although our grapes suffered some bunch necrosis (not a disease) after the post veraison rain event. . In total the 2011/12 vintage is unique in being among both the wettest (2011 and 1989 simiarly wet), and coolest vintages (coolest vintage since 1996) on record in the District. We picked 2.2 tonnes of fruit on April 1st at between 12.9 -13.7 Baume. The wine has a nice colour, good weight, and looks to be an excellent vintage. Veraison 7 February 2012, Vintage 1 April 2012 (Mean Temp during ripening 16.1C)

2010-2011

Finally, a wet winter - the first time since 2000 that the dams were completely full and the ground was saturated with water. The winter was consistently cool, but no extreme minimums. With all the rain and cool weather, we had budburst on October 7th, slightly later than normal, followed by snow on October 17th! The weather remained mild and wet through November, with the vines growing vigorously. Flowering commenced on 27th of November, accompanied by lots of rain, and finished around the 10th of December. A cool wet December was punctuated with a few hot days at the beginning of the new year, and then some intense thunderstorms -these dumped another 77mm of rain onto Maipenrai and some hail. Despite the moisture, the vineyard stayed remarkably disease free, with a heavy canopy and an abundance of fruit. February started with another 100mm of rain allowing Downy mildew to develop. Although it did some damage to the canopy, it was kept under control through most of the vineyard. Veraison commenced very late - 7th of February - and continued for 3 weeks in consistently cool and cloudy conditions. Because of the cool temperatures we dropped about half of the fruit, to aid the grapes to ripen as quickly and evenly as possible. We picked 1.7 tonnes of fruit on April 17th in what is by far an away our coolest vintage ever. At first glance, 2011 has produced lightly coloured, delicate wines. Veraison 15 February, Vintage 17 April (Mean Temp during ripening 15.5C)

2009-2010

The winter was yet again dry, with the first half of September very warm. This set the vines up for an early budburst that stalled on the 20th of September, when the weather suddenly turned very cool. This period was accompanied by a good rain fall that partially filled our dams. Budburst was uneven, and slow, such that by the 10th of October, the vines were still only showing a couple of leaves each. October vasilated between warm and cold, but more rain fell, and the vines were off to a good start. November was insanely hot -more like January, than November, and quite dry, and we irrigated several times to ensure that the vines continued to develop properly. Flowering occurred in mid November, two weeks early, with an appropriate amount of fruit set by the end of the month. December brought warm (but more typical) temperatures, and 70mm of welcome gentle rain on Christmas and Boxing day. This rain left the vines in good shape to weather the hottest average temps a Canberra January has ever seen. It wasn't all bad, because, although the average was high, the temperatures stayed below 37C, and the hot days were relatively still. Veraison reached its mid point on 31 January, with a moderate crop ripening very evenly across the vineyard, February started with warmish days, and unusually warm nights, accompanied by humidity. We had 15mm of desperately needed rain on the 6th, followed up with a huge 130mm spread over the 11th-15th. This was the biggest dump since 2002, and while it filled our nearly empty dams, it reaked havoc in the vineyard, splitting a large fraction (80%) of the grapes. We were spared botrytis, and the remaining fruit ripened under near perfect conditions, with our vineyard yielding less than a tonne of fruit when picked on the 21st March. To ensure high quality, our fruit was picked by a 100 people who went through the vineyard, grape by grape, and cut out all of the split fruit. The vintage has produced an intense deeply coloured wine. 2010 has emerged as a relatively full bodied, but pretty wine. Veraison 31 Jan, Vintage 21 March. (Mean Temp during ripening 18.7C)

2008-2009

The winter once again was quite dry with less than 100mm of rain falling from May-August, but this year it at least remained cool, with snow falling a couple of times. Some rain (40mm) fell in September, and budburst started on the 1st of October, a typical date. October was consistently warm, but moderate, and saw 30mm of rain - better than nothing, but well down on the 65mm norm. The vineyard though had enough moisture to see it through to November and December, where the warm, moderate weather persisted, but with nearly 200mm of rain falling. This rain caused an uneven flowering, but more importantly, filled the dams, and gave the wines the boost in growth they needed during this critical time. The weather remained moderate, although still on the warm side, through the end of January, with another 65mm of rain falling in a few intense thunderstorms. Veraison was in full swing by the 1st of February, where we saw an intense hot period (we had 4 days between 35-38C, but nothing like the string of 40 degree days experienced in South Australia and Victoria). Fortunately, the vines still had lots of water reserves and made it through this early hot spell in good shape to enjoy a full 7 weeks of hang-time, post Veraison, with the weather remaining mild and dry through-out the ripening period. We picked 3.5 tonnes of picture perfect fruit from vineyard on March 21st, with good Acid (7.5 g/l), good sugar levels (13.7 Baume), and great flavours. 2009 has produced a big brawny wine with great aging potential. Veraison 1 Feb, Vintage 21 March.(Mean Temp during ripening 19.1C)

2007-2008

After the very hot and drought affected vintage of 2007, we were glad to see a 100mm of rain in June. But as in the year before, the rain dried up, with essentially no rain from July through the end of October. It was not as hot they year before, and budburst occurred on September 29th, approximately a week early. October was particularly warm - with extremely warm nights, and normal daytime temperatures, and this pushed the vines along. Starting at the end of October, wet mild condtions were prevalent through mid December. This mild and wet period lead to an explosion of growth in the vineyard which was tamed by two weeks of hot weather in early January. The second half of January, through early March were very mild, with no temperatures recorded over 28 degrees in the vineyard, but also dry. Veraison was very early, around the 20th of January, and we picked 3 tonnes of healthy grapes on the 8th of March - our earliest ever vintage. Our wines were bottled after 22 months in barrel, with 3 barrels selected for Maipenrai (70 cases), and the remainder bottled under the Amungula Creek label. Our 2008s are silky, spicy, and somewhat lighter bodied than the 2005 and 2006 wines. Veraison 25 Jan, Vintage 8 March. (Mean Temp during ripening 18.2C)

2006-2007

After a dry end to 2006, we got nearly 100mm of rain in June -a good start to the year. But then the rain dried up with almost no rain in July through October. Furthermore, the weather was freakishly warm, and this lead first to an early budburst, and then rapid growth of the vines through October. By the beginning of November, the vines were 6 weeks ahead of a normal year, with flowering already commencing. A bit of rain in the middle November (30mm) kept things ticking along, but this was subsequently followed with the hottest driest weather Canberra has ever seen. So although our vineyard was spared the frost, hail and grasshopper damage that other district vineyards endured this year, the drought took its toll on the vineyard, with us running out of water for irrigation by mid-January. We picked a tiny crop of grapes on the 22nd of March, and this has produced three barrels of pleasant, but relatively light Pinot, which have been bottled under the Amungula Creek Label. Veraison 20 January, Vintage 22 March. (Mean Temp during ripening 20.6C)

2005-2006

A good winter of rain after another extremely dry autumn got this years vintage off to a good start. Spring was typically cool, and budburst occured in the first week of October. With continuing good rains, the vines showed vigour not experienced in the past few years, and got off to a terrific start. A very warm November was accompanied by a significant amount of rain, and things remained adequately moist through December. Things really began to heat up in mid-December, with a 38 degree on New Years day (that is as hot as it gets here folks). A few thunderstorms kept moisture in the ground, but unfortunately, two of these thunderstorms contained significant amounts of hail. The first storm on the 11th of January, did minor damage, but a second one, on the 23rd of January removed a large fraction of the leaves on the Eastern side of rows, as well as destroying all of the fruit on that side. The vineyard recovered, but the we lost a large fraction of the crop. Fortunately the damage was done before veraison, and so the grapes simply dried up and disappeared. February and March remained hot, but there was essentially no more rain after the damaging hail storm. In the end, 2006 is, along with 1983 and 1998, one of the hottest years on record in the Canberra District. Although hot by Canberra standards, the total heat summation for Maipenrai was about 1500 degree days - about the same as the Adelaide Hills in a typical year. We picked a tiny crop of 1.3 tonnes from our vineyard on March 25th, which has produced a lovely wine which emphasizes the silky and complex features of Pinot Noir over the big and brawny aspects. Veraison 7 Feb, Vintage 25 March. (Mean Temp during ripening 19.5C)

2004-2005

After a very warm July and August, it looked like the vines might get off to an early start, but a chilly September slowed the vines Sap, and budburst occurred in the 1st week of October. The drought of the autumn continued through winter until a large rainfall commencing on the 31st of August, and lasting two days. Normal rain fall continued through spring, giving the vines a good healthy start. Through the spring, the weather pattern was all over the place, with fortnightly variations far above and below the average temperature, with average nighttime temperature ending up a bit higher than the long term average. Starting in December, the rain became patchy, with large variations in rainfall between our District's vineyard, with rainfall once again drying up in February, leading to a very dry autumn. Also commencing towards the end of December was a trend towards consistently warmer than average conditions. These conditions pushed the vines along, with veraison taking place at Maipenrai in the first week of February. Disease free conditions persisted through the autumn, and we harvested our crop on March 27th, with the fruit at 12.5 Baume. This sugar level is somewhat lower than previous years, but was chosen because the fruit had reached full maturity, with nicely ripened seeds and stems, while retaining requisite natural acidity. Our crop levels were again very low, with a total of 1.5 tonnes taken of our 1 hectare vineyard. The fruit from the most developed parts of the vineyard were separated out for the Maipenrai wine, with the resulting wine showing a very dark purple colour reminiscent of a shiraz, intense fruit, and a lovely natural acidity. Aged in Oak for 22-months, the 2005 Maipenrai Pinot Noir features a firm palate of fine tannins. The wine is nicely delineated by acid and has a structure that will serve it well as it ages. Veraison 8 Feb, Vintage 27 March. (Mean Temp during ripening 17.8C)

2003-2004

Finally a normal winter whose rains replenished our dams and left some moisture in the soil. A warmer than average August and September got the vines ready for an early start. By the 15th of September, budburst looked imminent, but then a three week cold snap cooled things down, stopping the swelling buds in their tracks. Budburst finally commenced on the 8th of October, about a week later than normal. A few snowflakes were seen on October 11th, and a series of intense squally storms kept things moist through mid October. The end of October saw the temperatures rapidly rise, with an unusually warm period (with no rain) lasting through November 20th, burning off the grass. The rain returned again with 75mm of rain falling over the 21st-23rd of November, and a return to cool temperatures. Starting in December, things rapidly heated and dried up. Flowering finished at our vineyard by the 20th of December, and a warm, dry January speed the grapes along to veraison, which reached its midpoint on February 8th. February was among the hottest on record, and the dry weather of December and January continued for the rest of the season - less than 20mm of rain fell on Maipenrai from February through to May. Due to the extreme stress, the vines essentially shutdown at the time of veraison (we irrigated with the little water we had to keep the leaves on the vines) for a few weeks, before getting their legs back in March, at which time they once again made serious inroads at ripening their fruit. This pattern meant, despite the very warm year, that we picked our fruit on April 4th, with the last 4 weeks of ripening in relatively cool weather - perfect for Pinot Noir. Picked at 13 Baume, our fruit had tiny berries, and at measily 1 tonne per acre, our vineyard produced a medium weighted but fine wine in 2004. Veraison 8 Feb, Vintage 4 April. (Mean Temp during ripening 18.9C)

2002-2003

A very dry winter left the soil dry, and our dams less than full. Spring started early with warm weather commencing the first week of September, with budburst 10 days earlier than normal - approximately September 25th at Maipenrai. A bit of rain around budburst (30mm) was followed by essentially no rain in October and November, with the only relief, a welcome 17mm at the beginning of December. Although I am not a fan of irrigation, the incredibly dry and very warm weather through the growing season meant that regular irrigation was the only way to keep leaves on the vines. As an experiment, I didn't water a row of plants (Merlot, which I planned to remove anyways). These plants lost all of their leaves in February, with all of their fruit drying up and falling off before veraison. My other vines got a very small amount of water (approximately 250litres each over the course of the year), but this was enough to keep their leaves and fruit on. Veraison commenced approximately 20th of January - 3 weeks earlier than normal - and finished two weeks later. This extended period is less than ideal and was caused by the varying level of stress each plant was under. The weather finally cooled down to a relative normal year in early February, and the grapes, therefore, enjoyed Canberra's typically cool ripening conditions. We picked our grapes on March 10th, a month earlier than usual, with yields off our severely stressed young vines absurdly low - (0.3 tonnes per acre). The resulting wine is intensely coloured, with considerable weight, a firm tannin structure, and remarkably high quality given the warm growing conditions. In addition we obtained fruit from two other Canberra District vineyards, and they show a similarly dark colouring, with each vineyard having its own tannin structure. Veraison 20 Jan, Vintage March 10th.(Mean Temp during ripening 20.1C)

2001-2002

A slightly dry winter left our vineyards with an adequate supply of water in our dams, but with less than optimal soil moisture. The growing season got off to an early start with an unseasonably warm September. Budburst commenced around September 30th, with spring and early summer unusually dry - we received almost no rain in October, November and December. The dry weather was not accompanied with much heat, but the October-December period was the 2nd windiest quarter on record putting the vineyards under significant moisture stress. The dry weather continued through January - we received less than 20mm of rain. By the end of January, the 2001/2002 growing season was considered the driest in more than 20 years; but this pronouncement did not last for long. The drought ended in a flood of rain commencing February 2nd, with more than 140mm of rain received by February 6th, saturating the ground and filling the dams. Given the dry conditions, this rain was thought to be the coupe de grace for the vintage, but it had exactly the opposite effect. Rather than splitting the grapes and and allowing disease to spread, the drought plagued vines, suddenly burst into life, with the small crop of thick skinned berries achieving very high ripeness in cool conditions. This unusual set of weather conditions produced some of the most concentrated wines Canberra has ever produced - in marked contrast to most Australian regions which struggled with the conditions. This was Maipenrai's first crop, and our young vines and those from a nearby vineyard produced a lovely, silkily textured light-bodied pinot noir of relatively low acidity. Veraison 14 Feb, Vintage 4 April (Mean Temp during ripening 17.2C).