Winemaker's 2014 Vintage Report
Harvest went smoothly, without any of the previous vintage’s logistical pressures. I am very happy with the flavour, structure and overall quality of everything in the winery.
We picked our first Pinot Noir, as well as our first white grapes (Pinot Gris) on the 15th March – which is historically early for us – even earlier than 2008 and 2011.
Looking back over the years at the first picks:
Pinot Noir White grapes (often P.Gris)
2008 23 March 23 March
2009 31 March 26 March
2010 26 March 27 March
2011 24 March 18 March
2012 11 April 3 April
2013 30 March 31 March
We started with a normal September, then had warmer than average Spring weather from October to the end of December. Thereafter the weather was fairly normal, and the harvest period was mild. We had welcome rain events through the growing season, which kept canopies in good health. Everything was nigh-on perfect until persistent rain arrived about the 8th April.
We had a great budburst of shoots that were already very fertile following ideal bud initiation conditions in the previous late-Spring. Often there were double shoots per bud. The weather at flowering was great, and so fruit set was more than average. Timely rains allowed for good cell division, and later in the season, for good cell expansion. All these things lead to historically high berry size and bunch weights, and we had to drop a lot of fruit by hand-thinning – something seldom done with SB.
This year we experienced higher than usual powdery mildew pressure in Marlborough, but our team of Astrolabe growers stayed top of it.
We started historically early, but the larger than average crop loads helped to slow the ripening of the main crop, delaying into a more favourable period of mild days and cool nights – which helped with flavour and acid retention. The leisured start meant the fiddly intakes of hand-picked Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling could be completed in relative calm. Half way through the season, when the bigger Sauvignon Blanc machine harvests were happening, the pace was still pretty comfortable. The rain at the end of harvest was heavy and steady, and brought the season to a close quickly for us.
We had a burst of activity to beat the rain at the end, but the winery was up-to-date, and ready to receive the last of the fruit efficiently. Compared to 2013, it was an easy intake…
The most promising grape varieties seemed to be Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot, but there were no disappointments – all varieties were at least average or better. Chardonnay is notable for overall elegant structure and attractive citrus and stonefruit, and Pinot Noir with a lovely bright red fruit profile. Sauvignon Blanc seems to have elevated thiols to me, and an easy balance with moderate acid and alcohol.
Simon Waghorn, Winemaker.
From: News | 27 August 2014 | Tags: