Vintage Report 2021: Mudgee NSW

Jacob Stein, Robert Stein Wine, Mudgee

Wineries and grapegrowers in the Mudgee region of NSW are celebrating what we say has been a surprisingly excellent vintage.

Following on from the extremely difficult vintage of 2020, most winemakers are breathing a sigh of relief, being able to fill up their cellars again. The previous drought of 2018-2019 saw wine production drop in those years, and the smoke affected 2020 only saw about 25% of the region’s wine being made, so we were sweating on 2021 to be great. The gods were kind and gave us some tough but manageable conditions.

We had more rain in the growing season of 2020/21 than in the whole two years of 2018 & 2019 combined. The rain produced numerous downy events through the growing season, but luckily most vineyards were vigilant enough to protect the fruit & produce good quality wine grapes leading into harvest.

There was a late start to harvest in 2021 with the sparkling base Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being picked on the 2nd and 3rd week of February, with early whites being harvested soon after and into early March.

Luckily we then had four weeks of relatively drier weather, allowing us to concentrate on ripening red varieties. The cool, slow ripening conditions ensured natural acids were retained and flavours able to develop gradually, meaning whites like Riesling, and reds like Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly exciting.

Most early red varieties including Shiraz were picked on the second and 3rd week of March, before the 100mm of rain event started on the 22nd March.

Vignerons were worried about the later red varieties, and some suffered but most powered through this rain event and we were lucky to have three weeks of dry weather to harvest the later Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and some later alternative varieties.

The highlights of the vintage 2021 in Mudgee look to be Riesling and Chardonnay, Rosé is excellent and it seems our Cabernet Sauvignon could be the overall star of this vintage.

All varieties show excellent natural acidity from the cooler vintage, and we were lucky to ripen them with harvest being in the middle of the rain events and slightly lower cropping levels.

Mudgee topography, with elevated and mostly sloping vineyard sites, and being a warm climate was the major factors in us having a good vintage.

Surprisingly, even in a wetter than normal year, most of the Shiraz is showing good concentration and medium bodied with bright purple colour and displays cooler spice and nice red fruit characteristics. With Mudgee cellar doors experiencing a massive influx of tourism and wine lovers, it’s the vintage we needed to fill up our cellars and keep our family owned cellar doors operating at full potential into the year ahead.