News & Events

2016 VINTAGE REPORT

As we press some hand-pick Sauvignon direct to barrel and focus on smelling and tasting ferments I thought it would be the ideal time to have a quick recap before we start pressing off the Pinots.

It looks like Wednesday the 20th of April will be the last day of picking for us, when we take our Ward Farm Sauvignon, which is pretty well always our last, and also one small bit of special Chardonnay that we have left out to concentrate further to give us another option for the Mahi Chardonnay.

Even the fact that we still have a couple of blocks to pick at this stage of April gives some idea of the vintage, being that it will be a later finish for us than the last few years. After a cool start to the growing season in September we had a warm spell late November and early December which really suited flowering. Christmas was slightly cooler then midway through January it started to heat up and the ripening season has been one of our warmer ones of late. In general the acids in the juice are slightly lower than some years, and there have been some blocks we picked a bit earlier to retain that acidity, leaving the balance out to get the texture on the palate that we focus on.

After about 18 months of drought like conditions we had two rains just as we were easing into picking. We had taken our Pinot Noir for Rosé and had a break in picking planned but to be fair a few of us were pretty nervous when the second rain came through, but as so often happens the beautiful mountains to the north-west of us protected us from the next bout of showers and the last three weeks have made all the difference, giving us clear fine weather and allowing us the leisure of picking as our parcels ripened, and allowing longer time on the vine if required.

It will be a pretty fertile year because of that good weather at flowering, which influenced the berries per vine rather than bunch numbers, and our growers all dropped fruit early on to ensure that the vines managed to ripen the fruit well, and that the fruit had depth and concentration.

In terms of data up to the end of Thursday we were running at about 65% of normal rainfall through the season and were ahead of Long Term Average Growing Degree Days by about 10%, which is similar to our last two vintages.

At the moment the ferments are looking really good, with that rain early on allowing nitrogen to move in the soils so there are no ferment issues at all so far. The winery smells amazing from the Sauvignon ferments and the Pinots being plunged are looking pretty intense, maybe more floral rather than savoury right now but really good.

My thirtieth vintage this one, and I can honestly say it has been one of my less stressful, other than the early rains!! The winery has been going well with a team from Italy, Australia, China, the Netherlands, NZ and the US all working together well through the long days, nights, and lunches.

It really is a favourite time of year so it will be sad for it to be over but I look forward to catching up with you to taste, talk and sell some wine throughout the year.

Brian

SEE BACKGROUND IMAGE SHOW CONTENT