The lead-up to the 2013 vintage saw an early onset of summer, with occasional thunder storms and only four heat spikes, into the 40s, over summer. A cooler than average January followed by a warm February, brought the predicted early vintage even further forward.
Even after the dry-fecta of winter/spring/summer the word from the winery floor was that it would be another great Eden Valley riesling year, followed up with some great old-vine shiraz. Fortunately, a desperately needed 16mm of rain came, the first for nearly six months, at the beginning of March to help the dry-grown vines struggle through to full maturity.
The roller-coaster weather ride continued through March with almost weekly cycles of hot and cold. Cool drizzly weather at the end of March nearly brought the harvest to a halt, but with a return to the Indian summer conditions in early April, it gave us a chance to get the late varieties in Eden Valley over the line, predominately cabernet sauvignon and merlot, returning us to another great vintage of average yields and fabulous rock solid quality.
The 2013 harvest was expected to be early, with the Easter full moon very close to the autumn equinox, and sure enough budburst started early in spring 2012 with green shoots emerging in the first week of September suggesting this would be so.
All varieties woke to a cool and mild spring, with cabernet the last to greet the sun on October 1. A snow flurry in early October led into a mild November, with warm days and nights providing excellent conditions for flowering. Set was excellent across all varieties.
Spring was conspicuous for its dryness but thankfully frost free, and as summer approached the vines developed beautifully balanced canopies and rain was just a distant memory. It was not to rain again until the end of harvest, seven dry months that produced a green drought.
As harvest time approached, it was abundantly clear that 2013 was going to be exceptional in terms of yield and quality across all varieties - a rare thing in the lofty airs of Lenswood, where weather events usually dictate terms that are best described as challenging!
Chardonnay and riesling were fabulous, as too were sauvignon blanc, gewϋrztraminer, pinot gris, merlot and cabernet. But the vintage will be defined by the pinot noir, which was developing flavours well ahead of the baume curve, requiring close attention with blocks being selectively picked four times over two weeks, chasing those elusive pinot flavours that present Turkish delight, cherries, five spice and a potpourri of herbs, with lively acids. We can look forward to elegant and long-lived pinots from the numerous parcels that came in.
Lenswood does not give up her fruit easily but every now and then she tosses a furtive glance your way and delivers the unexpected. The 2013 harvest will be remembered as near perfection in a year of snow and drought, truly a rare and exceptional vintage. Wherever your preferences lie, 2013 will reward you handsomely with power and finesse.