Autumn/Winter 2023

Healthy rainfall so far this year been terrific for the soil, the vines, and the dam

We knew when we first encountered MMAD Vineyard that the 30 rows of Chenin Blanc were precious albeit largely unheralded vines.  That intuition has been proven to be well founded, as the 2021 Chenin Blanc has exceeded our expectation in every way.  The energy, the mouth-watering acidity alongside the layers of texture and extract, and the array of flavours, intriguing and beguiling, have all repaid our faith in Chenin Blanc as a great match for this site. With that in mind, we have recently planted another 4 rows to Chenin Blanc, replacing a small section of Cabernet Sauvignon.

We’ve also been putting out more straw in the vineyard, which helps retain moisture, and makes the ground more welcoming for worms.  Healthy rainfall so far this year been terrific for the soil, the vines, and the dam. 

The season in 2023 was the latest of these 3 consecutive La Nina seasons from 2021 – 2023.  Here are picking dates for each of these years:

Chenin Blanc:

2021: 23 – 24 February

2022: 21 – 22 February

2023: 1 – 14 March


2021: 17 March

2022: 10 March

2023: 25 – 30 March


2021: 4 – 18 March

2022: 7 – 8 March

2023: 22 March

So 2023 was the latest for each variety, and quite a bit later than 2022.  In 2022 yields were particularly low, so that was one factor leading to earlier ripening, with the vine putting its energy into a smaller amount of fruit, bringing maturity forward.  Another factor in 2022 was that December, February, and March were all drier than in season 2023. Looking at the nearby Clarendon weather station, the contrast is clear:


December 2021                 2.0 mls

January 2022                      35.2 mls

February 2022                   7.0 mls

March 2022                        11.8 mls

December 2022                14.4 mls

January 2023                      31.6 mls

February 2023                   21.4 mls

March 2023                        35.2 mls

So if we just look at December, February, and March, of the 2023 season, rainfall was more than 3 times the same months in 2022, 70mls compared to 21mls.

Sometimes when a region is cool to cold and marginal for ripening, the impacts of seasons are very dramatic.  But in less marginal climates like in Blewitt Springs the character of the individual year is still absolutely there, giving the wines their detail and personality.  In 2021 balance and perfume are features of a year that was cool to mild but with lovely even ripening. In 2022, a combination of a cool season, but very low yields, made intensity and pure fruit key elements for me. In 2023, perfume will again be a hallmark, with fresh acidity giving the wines great vibrancy. When we look back on these three years, they will, I think, be one of the most exciting trilogies of years to reflect on, each influenced by La Nina, but each telling their own unique story. 

– David LeMire MW