Friday, May 30, 2014

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. 

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