2018 Vintage Report – Another hot one

Author: Brian Croser
Source: Tapanappa
Review Date: May 2018

I am over above average temperature vintages.

One of the great paradoxes of winemaking is that to make the best wines from our established suite of noble varieties, choose a cool region, look for the warmest site in the region and hope for vintages that are above average in temperature.

The best wines from cool regions are made in the vintages that are warmer and drier than average.

Well, vintage 2018 answered the description warmer and drier than average by an uncomfortably large margin.

Vintage 2016 is the only vintage warmer than 2018 since 1960 (59 vintages) in our vineyards, indeed in all of southeast Australia. The exception is Foggy Hill where 2018 was marginally warmer than 2016.

Tapanappa has its own weather stations in each of its vineyards.

For the sake of consistency I am using the Australian Silo derived data of the CliMate site for the locations closest to each of our vineyards.

For Tiers that is Mount Lofty-2kms to the West, for Foggy Hill it is Parawa 3kms to the West and for Whalebone it is Wrattonbully, 5kms to the Southeast. Our weather stations at the vineyards correlate very closely with the CliMate data for these sites.


Vintage Average

Heat Summation (ºC-days)

Vintage 2018

Heat Summation (ºC-days)

Vintage 2016

Heat Summation (ºC-days)

Mt. Lofty/Tiers 1139 1503 1583
Parawa/Foggy Hill. 1298 1625 1598
Wrattonbully/Whalebone 1464 1799 1881
Coonawarra 1459 1782 1848

Vintage 2018 was 20 to 30% warmer than the average for each of Tapanappa’s vineyard sites and joins vintage 2016 as the two warmest vintages since 1960.

As well as being warm 2018 vintage was very dry and especially for all of the months post veraison, January through March, when less than half the average rain fell with the exception of late rain at the end of April after all grapes had been harvested.

There can be no doubt 2018 was a very warm and dry vintage, but what of the quality?

Although it was very warm in 2018 the above average temperatures were experienced day and night.

Foggy Hill was +1.8ºC for each of the 212 days of the vintage and +1.2ºC for each of the nights.

The Tiers was +3.2ºC for each of the days and +1.2 for each of the nights.

There were no extreme or intense heat waves. Although both Tiers and Foggy Hill had twice the average number of days over 30ºC they only experienced 4 days each over 35ºc. There were no deleterious effects of sunburn or dehydration/dessication due to extreme temperatures.

Each of the vineyards delivered disease free, thoroughly ripe fruit in perfect condition and at moderate sugar levels. The abundance of colour in the red varieties and the very low by normal standards, malic acid levels at harvest were the most notable effects of the consistent warmth in 2018 vintage.

The harvest dates for each of Tapanappa’s 3 distinguished site vineyards were close to average despite the exceptional warmth.

Foggy hill was harvested on the 12th and 13th of March, The Tiers was harvested on the 24th and 25th of March, Whalebone Vineyard Merlot and Cabernet Franc were harvested on the 21st of March and Whalebone Cabernet Sauvignon on the 5th of April. One of Mother Nature’s enduring mysteries is the timing of the sequence of events on the vine that decide the moment of harvest and no more mysterious than for vintage 2018.

2018 was an unusually warm and dry vintage and Tapanappa’s wines will be full flavoured and honest expressions of their terroirs.

I reproduce here the heat summation charts from CliMate for each of our vineyard sites. The 30/4/Current purple line is the 2018 vintage heat summation, the thick blue line is the average heat summation and each of the thin blue lines represents a vintage since and including 1960. The top thin blue line is the 2016 vintage.



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