Friday, May 30, 2014

Vintage 2014 Reports

2014 Vineyard Vintage Report
Colin Ross, Viticulturist and Farmer

Minimal frost in Spring 2013. Excellent early season canopy growth with minimal inputs required. Perfect flowering conditions in 2013 and 2014, resulting in good bunch numbers and berry set. The season by the summer solstice was 7-10 days ahead of average.  Cool conditions post berry set and up to veraison. Dry and warm ripening with rapid veraison.  Welcome sunshine with mild and stable ripening conditions until the end of the first week in April. Heavy rain mid April.

Observant and considered viticulture practices have delivered fruit suitable for all our wine-making and market requirements. Considerable attention was paid to cropping levels from all blocks. Fruit was disease free plus very close to planned and forecast yields. 2014 has been a great testimony to quality biodynamic agriculture. Thick skins on berries, well -spaced and open bunches, moderate open canopies, under-vine cover-crops, low bird pressure all had a part to play in delivering some tasty fruit in 2014.

Harvest began with a small pick for sparkling base from the Leopold block at Raupo on the 18th of March. Vintage began in earnest from the 25th of March with Pinots from Osip. Balanced, ripe fruit at lower brix has been our goal for many years and is gradually becoming the norm.  Challenging conditions from the 8th of April with persistent rainfall.  The majority of fruit had been harvested by this time. Taking advantage of clear weather windows we were able to have all of our fruit harvested by the 15th of April. Due to frenetic activity in the region towards the end of harvest we opted to handpick a portion of the MOMO Sauvignon Blanc this year. The region was hit by a deluge of 50mm+ beginning on the 16th. Around  150mm of rain falling regionally in April, against a long term average of 47mm. , with 129mm at Raupo and 187mm at Home. With the majority of fruit coming from Raupo, this was a real blessing.

All in all, a year where we have had a very pleasing result at Seresin. After five years of training and experimentation using working horses for applying compost teas and biodynamic preparations via our custom-made ground drive spray-unit we are now covering the entire Home vineyard and olive groves with horse-drawn applications. This is an area in excess of 50 hectares.  In 2014, we also brought our hand-harvested fruit to the winery with a special horse drawn trailer.

650 tonnes of very high quality fruit picked by hand.

Vintage 2014 Reports

2014 Winery Vintage Report
Clive Dougall, Winemaker

The flowering of 2014 matched that of the previous year and set up the bunch architecture magnificently. Open large bunches and even berry size resulted in a heavy crop that was seen across all varieties. Verasion happened fast, as the season promised a lot, with a steady sunny and dry summer progressing well, but without the temperatures getting too high. A lot of fruit thinning and grading was required to achieve our desired yield and resultant quality. The general consensus was that there was going to be an early harvest, as the sunshine just kept coming.

The predicted early season failed to eventuate and we started harvesting only a couple of days earlier than the norm by picking some sparkling wine base on 18th March. It was the Pinot Noir from the Osip block in Raupo Creek Vineyard that then called us, with the table wine harvest starting on 25th March. The low-yielding clay slope produced the finest and most even bunches to date, partly due to the perfect flowering, partly to do with vine age increasing, but a lot to do with the vineyard health and management. The even bunches with even berries promise to provide Sun and Moon, Rachel and Raupo Pinots with a finesse that  we hope to match with the power the vineyard delivers.

Ripeness of the white varieties was surprising, with the flavours developing in the fruit, but the sugar ripeness suggesting a much less ripe sample. It became clear quite early that we were going to be picking based more on acidity ripeness than on achieving a particular sugar level.

On April 8th although not forecast, 3 small cyclonic weather patterns surrounded the Cook Strait and held each other there for a week or two. The result was a pattern of regular rain for the rest of the month. Fortunately we had harvested the majority of our fruit before this event, and we were able to pick the remainder during the dry periods, finishing harvest on the 15th April.

The estate has developed amazing resilience under the biodynamic farming system, and this year was the perfect advertisement for this philosophy. The fruit that was harvested from our own estate vineyards was 100% clean – this is due to the resilience and particularly the thickness of the skins developed by our farming methods.  A special mention is deserved for the Chardonnay from Raupo this year. Easily the best crop in terms of quality and yield that has come from our estate.

Having had the chance to taste the wines after fermentation, the picture of the harvest is more clear. The Pinot Noirs are showing a slightly lighter colour than in 2013, but are structurally exciting, with the finesse and balance we wish for each year. The white wines across the board are showing some real delicacy and poise for such immature wines, and of course the alcohols are lower due to the reduced sugar in the grapes – a gift for us as we strive to reduce the alcoholic presence in our wines generally.

From the beginning, the growing season 2014 promised a lot, and delivered. A worrying weather pattern couldn’t take the shine off the year, and for once the vintage has pleased the winemaker, farmer and accountant. A very unusual occurrence.