I had a chuckle reading Harvey Steiman’s recent blog post on Wine Spectator about the La Pleiade shiraz, a Heathcote wine produced by Chapoutier and Ron Laughton (Jaspers Hill). It’s also a wine which I bought the first couple of vintages of, then got completed bored with.
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Back to my source of amusement: in Mr Steiman’s opening sentence, he refers to Victoria as the ‘cool-climate capital’ of Australia. Well, I won’t disagree that it’s certainly one of the Southerly located states.. but let’s not forget the entire island of Tasmania shall we? And it’s capital city of Hobart. There would been more cool-climate wines coming from TAS and NSW compared to VIC.
We could be slightly more objective and utilise the seasonal temperature numbers. Let’s not forget that for the period of Nov 2012 to March 2013, VIC has endured tremendously savage heatwaves. For the January and February months, the mean highest temperature in the Heathcote district was a touch under 30C. This summer, the hottest temperature in VIC was 46.3C. The highest summer temperature recorded in TAS, 40.2C at Bushy Park. For summer 2013, Hobart’s average temperature was ~23C. In comparison, Melbourne sat at about 26C. So I would have to argue that the Heathcote region is by no means a site within the cool-climate state of Victoria. I’d have less of an issue if this reference was reserved for the Mornington Peninsula or some parts of the Yarra Valley.
If we wanted to talk about cool climate wine-regions in Australia, Murrumbateman would arguably be one of the top candidate regions. This Southern zone of NSW which suffers from it’s closer proximity to Canberra had its 2013 crop decimated by frost. Its summer temperature min/max averages range 13-29C. Doesn’t stop it from producing awesome wines such as the shiraz viogniers of Clonakilla.