The 2018 growing season had a reasonable start with adequate rainfall through winter and early spring. Healthy canopies were established across all sites and the dry and warm conditions of late January and February kept weeds and disease pressures to a low. February proved to be a very warm month which stalled ripening and it wasn’t until the relief of a mild March that the outlook for a great harvest looked imminent.
The late Indian summer enhanced the quality of late picked varieties such as Mataro, Grenache, Montepulciano and Cabernet. 2018 came off the back of two big vintages so it was no surprise this harvest was likely to be down on average with most crops down by 20-25%. The wines produced were very balanced, had ripe phenolics and display vibrant mid palate weight, a spectacular vintage for good structure and elegance.
The Graciano vineyard is located on our Stonewell Estate. Planted in 2002, it is an ideal site for this premium Spanish grape variety. The perched vineyard is often exposed to persistent winds that help maintain a healthy dry canopy that has little to no disease pressures. The brown clay soils have shallow underlying sedimentary bedrock. Graciano is a late ripening grape variety but despite the longer ripening period it has an exceptional ability to retain remarkable natural acidity.
The hand-harvested fruit is destemmed to a concrete fermenter. The must is inoculated and allowed to ferment between 22-25ºC until dry before pressing. Its cap is managed by gentle pump over and hand plunging. Barrel élevage is undertaken with a mix of seasoned French oak hogsheads and barriques. The wine is bottled 12 months after harvest to ensure the style retains its vibrancy and primary fruit freshness.