Thorn-Clarke’s 2019 vintage
The 2019 vintage in the Barossa can be summed up with two key points; low yields and high quality. Winter in 2018 was extremely dry and with high winds, frost and rain at flowering the Thorn-Clarke vineyards had a lot to contend with. As a result the vines had a very small amount of bunches and small amount of berries per bunch. Low yield though lead to concentration of varietal characters in the bunches and the berries produced this year were intense in fragrance, flavour and colour. Best of all they have an amazing balance whether they are white or red. Truly, 2019 will sit alongside the greatest vintages the Barossa has seen this century.
Our southern Eden Valley vineyard planted on the slope of Mt Crawford shone this year. Although water was scarce in this area Mt Crawford is typically the coolest site in South Australia during summer and we pick the fruit from here later than most; missing the most intense heat spikes of the growing season. Riesling and Chardonnay are looking particularly strong with amazing natural balance of fruit flavours, citrus-like acidity and mouthfeel. The Riesling shows beautiful minerality and limes and will drink amazingly well now or with some bottle age. The Chardonnay is varietal with white peach and grapefruit, and has the hallmarks of a classic year.
Milton Park in the northern Eden Valley always finds a way to deliver quality. The unique meso-climate means that we have warm days and quite cool nights allowing the fruit to accumulate sugar, colour and flavour over a long period. The Shiraz and Cabernet from this vineyard situated near our winery were outstanding performers. Very small berries and small bunches means there isn’t a lot to go around however what is there is intense, pure and fragrant and is as balanced as any vintage seen in a decade.
Sitting in the middle of the Barossa is our Kabininge Vineyard. A true ‘valley floor’ site with plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. This vineyard was no exception to the year’s low rainfall and challenging growing season. The decreased water supply over the growing season lead to low yields which worked in favour of our Cabernet varieties. Like finding a needle in a haystack bunches were few and far between but what was there was of immense quality with a depth of colour that is rarely seen. All three varieties showed amazing intensity colour with a real vibrancy about them. Both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were very varietal with a generosity of fruit that is supported by rich tannins.
St Kitts is our most northern vineyard with an altitude of 390 meters. An argument can already be made that at St Kitts, this was our best vintage on record. The vines carried very small crops but as with our other vineyards, the intensity and balance that was there was exceptional. Shiraz was king here with powerful black fruits, long, mouth-filling fruit tannins and a perfumed fragrance. The wines will drink amazingly well when released due to the finely poised balance but at the top end these wines will last for decades.
Thorn-Clarke, September 2019