Coonawarra experienced a very cool spring with reasonable rainfall leading to abundant shoot growth. Significant rain fell between Christmas and New Year, followed by very dry and hot conditions from the New Year until March.
The region just managed to avoid rainfall showers that passed south until Easter, when some rainfall was recorded.
Crop levels were down due mainly to the cool spring, which affected fruit set, and the February-March heat, which caused loss of berries and bunches. The dry finish to the season and the small crop loads resulted in Baumé; Levels being good to high.
Excellent quality shiraz was produced throughout Coonawarra this year and was the highlight of the vintage. Across all vineyard blocks, there was a consistency of quality that will be the hallmark of the year. Intense but very fine tannins frame ripe, spicy fruit to give wines that reflect the year and will be suited to both early drinking and cellaring.
Some of the riesling blocks ripened early while others were able to hang for longer, extending the ripening window. Intense citrus characters with crisp acidity again characterise the variety. Fruit quality was generally very good and the Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2000 Riesling is an excellent follow-on to the gold medal winning 1999.
Chardonnay ripened well, producing generally rich, full-flavoured fruit. The Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2000 Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine which will be suitable for early consumption.
The fruit sourced for the Rouge Homme Unoaked Chardonnay has good richness balanced with fine, slightly herbaceous characters that have developed beautifully during extended yeast contact. The Rouge Homme Chardonnay has great finesse, with sufficient fruit sweetness for consumption on release but also showing ageing potential.
The 2000 vintage has allowed a diverse range of pinot noir wines to be made showing individual vineyard characters. Pinot ripened extremely early this year with some batches being harvested in February compared with mid-to-late March in a typical year. A very good Rouge Homme Pinot Noir was produced once again which reflects winemaker Paul Gordon's commitment to quality.
A fine, silky, but restrained Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael Shiraz is currently maturing in oak. This is a wine that will reflect both its region of origin and the high quality of the vintage. Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz is also a finer style with good varietal definition and balance.
Great concentration of flavour has allowed the Rouge Homme Shiraz Cabernet blend to contain its highest percentage of shiraz for many years. Rouge Homme winemaker Paul Gordon considers it equivalent in quality to 1998. It will offer great value for money.
At Wynns Coonawarra Estate, cabernet sauvignon produced wines which are generally softer than the firm, tannic wines of 1999. An abundance of ripe cassis flavours with good intensity is seen in many cabernet parcels, but the tannins are considerably softer than those of the past couple of vintages. These characters will show through in both the Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch and the Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Very low yields of cabernet at Rouge Homme have resulted in a very much reduced resource. The wine has all the hallmarks of the Rouge Homme Cabernet style: cassis, some mint and earthiness complementing a long sweet-fruit palate of medium-to-full body. The 2000 Rouge Homme Cabernet Merlot blend will be similar to the trophy winning 1997.
Merlot has proved a consistent variety in Coonawarra, providing numerous blending choices and options. Low yields gave merlot grapes ripe tannins at harvest without excessive alcohol. Sweet fruit intensity will combine extremely well with leafy, more austere cabernet sauvignon, and the 2000 Rouge Homme Cabernet Merlot blend will be similar to the trophy-winning 1997. The Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Shiraz Merlot blend is also of very high quality.
The 2000 vintage has resulted in a trio of wonderful Lindemans Coonawarra individual vineyard reds. The Limestone Ridge vineyard yielded only half its average crop of the past five years. Furthermore, the Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet is correspondingly dense and rich, reflecting the overall quality of Coonawarra shiraz this year. Greg Clayfield rates it as certainly one of the best since 1991. Lindemans Pyrus Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Cabernet Franc is intense and rich, but also fine and long. All varieties in this blend performed well and the wine will be as good as, if not better than, the 1999. Cassis, mint and chocolate highlight the flavour spectrum of a wine that will be a wonderful keeper. The St George vineyard produced a larger crop than in 1999, but the yield was still only 60% of the site's five-year average. The Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon has remarkable fruit sweetness and stacks of fruit flavour, and is possibly a little bigger in style than is typical.
The Coonawarra region is the source for Rosemount Estate's multi-award winning Show Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. While yields were somewhat below average, the year panned out well for quality, with fruit flavours reminiscent of the 1996 vintage.
While shoot thinning early in the season had set the vineyard well for the forthcoming vintage, the summer conditions encouraged high vegetative growth, which required some directed leaf plucking and non-bearing shoot thinning to maintain the established balance and optimise fruit exposure for the ripening phase.
Philip Shaw believes this helped greatly to lift the final quality of the fruit which came in quickly over a ten-day period between 10 and 20 April, almost two weeks earlier than the previous year.
"The crop yields were a little below average but the quality is very good indeed. The fruit was very ripe and had lots of bright, red berry flavour and very good physiological balance. I'm very pleased with the results and looking forward to seeing this wine develop in barrel over the next two years or so."