News & Events

BRIAN’S VINTAGE REPORT FOR 2014

 

2014 Vintage Report

April 28, 2014

 

One of the things that will be remembered about the 2014 vintage in Marlborough was the very early start, and the early finish, giving us a relaxed Easter, which is a pretty rare occurrence. I remember remarking about the same thing last year but this one was even more precocious and it caused a bit of a panic with barrel orders and staff arrivals!

As it was so unusual I have listed the recent vintage dates for the Mahi fruit intake, just to show the variability in vintages that nature gives us.

 

2014                    March 12     –     April 14

2013                    March 28     –     April 18

2012                    April 7     –     May 3

2011                    March 21     –     April 24

2010                    March 30     –     April 24

2009                    March 27     –     April 25

 

The other two things that will stick out in our memories of this year were that it was a fecund year, a fertile year, a season of plenty with the vines showing the effects of the great flower initiation in December 2012 and superb flowering conditions in December 2013; and that it was a game of two halves, great conditions up until April the 8th, and damper tones after that. Another year showing unique conditions that continue to educate, excite and humble us.

The 2014 vintage growing season started with a pretty normal September in terms of temperature then from the beginning of October we saw warm months right through to the end of December,  which really helped get the vintage away to an early start. Once we were into February the temperatures cooled slightly and meant that the key ripening period happened in cooler conditions, helping to retain the fruit flavours and lengthening the harvest a little, meaning that the picking decisions became easier and the winery could handle the fruit intake well.

Our growers had worked really hard to drop fruit through the season, with some growers dropping 18 bunches a vine, to ensure that the crops could ripen well and flavours were maintained. This proved to be a real bonus as we started early and managed to harvest nearly all of our fruit prior to the rain started on April the 8th.

When we started picking on the 12th  of March we had experienced something like 35 days of no rain before we got a small amount in the tail of Cyclone Lusi on the 16th. Then there were  three weeks of no rain, great conditions that made for a pretty orderly vintage, with us picking every day but without rush or heavy days in the winery. The flavours developed well and we had a period when everything tasted great and we used a night shift to utilise the winery to its potential.

Our first fruit for Mahi this year was some lovely Pinot Noir from the winery vineyard that we picked early for a potential Rosé which is tasting great in tank at the moment. It will be a new wine for us and are keen to do something dry, textural and flavoursome, something with a bit of depth as well as fruit.

Our last fruit was the final portion of the Sauvignon Blanc from Ward, which is commonly our last parcel. We had taken a half of it a week earlier so it will be great having the two different options when it comes to the blending as this is often some of our most intense and dense fruit, after surviving the cool southerlies through the season that tends to keep the temperatures and cropping levels low.

This was a year for the growers, one that tested a number of vineyards that were still out late in the vintage and one that rewarded lower crops and favourable sites as they will have ripened earlier. This is not a new rule or phenomenon, rather a basic tenant of grape growing, being that balanced vines ripen early and that overcropped ones always struggle.

In the winery we were lucky to have a number of vintage staff back from last year, meaning that things flowed well from the start. Both Ari from Oregon and Elia from Italy were repeat offenders and it was so good seeing them back again. We were fortunate that Matt Ward, our assistant winemaker, had met Sergio in Burgundy while he was there for the vintage and he was our main newby, though one with a lot of experience and passion for wine. Chris was around for the start of the harvest and then Rod Parker, who sells Mahi in Sydney, turned up to help out with the plunging and ferments which was great. Along with Gemma, Matt, Pat and I it was a well rounded team with a lot of experience and practicality, all which help make the vintage experience so much more fun.

The vintage party on the Kereru again gave a good excuse to get away do some fishing, drink some great international wines, play some Jenga and generally share some time with people we had been through harvest with, and before they take off to their new adventures.

Another vintage over but the work in the winery continues and we look forward to seeing and sharing the fruits of Vintage 2014 with you in due course!

 

Brian and the team at Mahi

 

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