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Vintage 2006

The unpredictable year

The weather changes were significant, even extreme. An especially long winter yielded plenty of snow (and with it, high humidity), followed by a spring that was just as wet and not very warm. But in mid-June, during the flowering – which was a bit late – it warmed up significantly and very quickly, culminating in a in a very hot period with record high temperatures lasting until the end of July. However, in August, it became very cool and rainy again, with sunshine hard to come by. According to statistics compiled by the Central Meteorology Institute, rainfall was higher than average, particularly in the north of the country. The harvest periods of September and October, though, saw wonderful autumn weather with plenty of sun, warm temperatures and dry soils. The noted differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, which are so important for the development of aromas, occurred earlier in some regions and later in others. As a result, the harvesting of aromatic grapes with high ripeness was a sure thing.

Fortunately, there were no major problems such as dryness stress, because the weather turned at exactly the right moment. In Burgenland, for example, anxiously-awaited rainfall arrived when needed. And the dry soils with good water retention, such as loess, put their balancing qualities to use during the hot days of July. Moreover, permeable soils proved their value in rainy August. However, with rain falling on grapes that were only half-ripe and still hard, green harvesting and leaf management were quite extensive. But the remaining foliage provided good ventilation and, therefore, left the grapes less susceptible to fungi.

Because of September’s warmth, sugar levels increased very quickly – and indicated that wines would have generous alcohol, higher as with the 2005 vintage. Comparisons with the 2003 and 2000 vintages were often being made. But putting producers throughout all of the regions in a somewhat euphoric state were the naturally high acidity levels that would help provide wonderful balance and long life to the wines.

In Styria, August was not as damp and cool as it was in the northern regions. However, an Adriatic depression at around September 18th brought high amounts of water in only a few days. This increased significantly the susceptibility to rot. But those winemakers who kept calm and waited for a dry-out managed to thwart rot damage through pre-harvesting – and therefore profited from the wonderful autumn weather.

The harvest also was, shall we say, a bit of an unpredictable animal. While some pronounced the harvest as “on time” (neither earlier nor later than usual) – the harvests in the Donauland and Carnuntum wine growing areas were a bit earlier than their annual average. Also, overall, varieties weren’t always picked according to their traditional early-, mid- or late-harvest times. While premium Riesling grapes in the Wachau have been right on schedule – with some winemakers planning to harvest theirs well into November – most winemakers in all of the regions had to make quick harvests in order to avoid over-ripeness, dominant alcohol or Botrytis.

For biologically-focused wineries – no matter the philosophy and region - the weather brought with it high costs for the extra work in the vineyards. Nevertheless, while many wineries had changed or updated their methods – some for the first time - the results proved quite satisfying. Their efforts have paid off - even in a complicated year such as this one. Undoubtedly, it will not be the only one.

  • Allram Weinkeller
  • Panorama Weingärten
  • Morgenstimmung im Weingarten