South Australia vintages
3 Sep 2008 by Jancis Robinson

2013 was the hottest summer ever for South eastern Australia and yields were well down but the vine proved itself relatively resistant to the record temperatures with many varieties ripening in an unusually short period.

2012 produced lower-than-average yields in Australia, as it did across much of Europe. This was blamed on high winds, drought and low fruitfulness resulting from the poor 2011 vintage. Quality, however, was much better than in the exceptionally damp 2011, with South Australia avoiding some of the weather extremes experienced by other states. Strong varietal typicality is a commonly cited feature of the 2012 crop.

2011
Wet across most of Australia, and 'one of the toughest in 25 years' according to Peter Gago of Penfolds, with lots of botrytis and mildew infections. Whites are generally thought better, with some excellent Clare Valley Riesling where fruit selection was stringent.

2010 This was the year that the rain finally came, breaking a long drought. This brought some problems later in the season, with excess rainfall encouraging some mildew, but generally the impression is a positive one across the state.

2009 A smaller vintage with another blistering heatwave to contend with. Opposite to 2008, the whites suffered most in 2009.

2008 An extremely hot year wreaked havoc with reds, but the earlier picked whites look to be good quality, and the Barossa’s oldest vines weathered the heat as they always have done.

2007
Very early, very small harvest, shrunk by the killer combination of frost and drought. Reds tend to be concentrated. Clare Rieslings are likely to shine. For a full, very highly detailed, report on 2007, click here.

2006 Rain, very welcome in some respects, interrupted harvest at the end of the fourth successive drought-affected growing season. Limestone Coast Cabernets look promising.

2005 Large crop of super-ripe wines in which both reds and whites were very successful.

2004 Record crop even though the total volume was trimmed by extreme heat just before harvest. Increasingly highly regarded reds.

2003 Eerily similar to many European 2003s, these are potent, fast-maturing reds shaped by a drought season with, often, a hole in the middle and very dry tannins on the finish.

2002 Poor weather at flowering reduced yields considerably and was followed by an unusually cool summer and a late harvest leading to some high-quality wines. Inland irrigated regions benefited most obviously from this prolonged growing season.

2001 A vintage that rewarded the quality-conscious. A usefully wet start to the growing season was followed by prolonged very hot, dry weather, broken by rain just before harvest in March. Some grapes suffered sunburn but lower-yielding vineyards produced true quality.

2000 Very challenging vintage conditions which included poor flowering, hail, exceptional heat in summer and rain during harvest. There were problems with colour stability. Small crop.

1999 The record crop was more the result of increased plantings than any natural phenomenon. Several years of drought conditions continued until summer, which was plagued by some storms which compromised vintage health. A cooler year than 1998.

1998 Was then a record crop from an early, frantic vintages despite drought conditions. Some fine reds.

1997 Vintage saved by a hot April with some fine Shiraz made, eventually, which should have a long life.

1996 A big vintage at last, with sugars boosted by a late burst of heat.

1995 Inconveniently small crop but some good Shiraz and Rieslings, especially in Clare, where quantities were better than elsewhere

1994 Exceptionally dry but not too hot: the resulting wines are deep and structured, especially from the Barossa Valley.

1993 Ripening was slowed by an unusually cool and wet spell. A challenging year with the whites especially more variable than usual.

1992 Cool temperatures at harvest ensured balanced wines, exceptional from Clare Valley.

1991 Dry weather restricted yields, but the quality was generally fine for all varieties.

1990 Ideal weather: enough water and moderate temperatures. An excellent year in all regions.