The first day of harvest here at Quartz Reef was 8th March with the sparkling base and the last pick on 15th April with the Gruner Veltliner. Our first Pinot Noir harvest was 23rd March; starting with the ferments “Maximillian I” (Rudi) and “Rogue Erratic” (Sarah), and the final Pinot pick on 4th April.
After multiple punchdowns and attention from our dedicated team, all the Pinot Noir ferments are now happily tucked away in oak barrels, where they will mature for the rest of the year. The white ferments are all complete or in the last stages or fermentation.
Our initial impressions of this season is of very good seed maturity and flavour profile at a much lower sugar level than usual, which we are very excited about. Perhaps signs of vine age and profits of our bio dynamic farming practices starting to show through in balanced vines, fruit and subsequently the wine.
The flavour spectrum may not be as intense as 2014, still we are very pleased with the ripe tannin profile and varietal fruit intensity. The Pinot Noir ferments started off subdued and then developed some great weight and generous tannins. It will be interesting to follow these wines through maturity to bottle as we anticipate some exciting and elegant wines.
During the Autumn Equinox the crew took a nice break from the winery to make Biodynamic Preparation 500 out at the “Nerve Centre”. This is made by filling a cow horn with cow dung and burying it until the Spring Equinox. Whilst buried over winter the BD500 matures into rich dark humus. This is then ready for spring application to the vineyard, which acts as a soil stimulant.
In the winery, we enjoyed a bigger than usual team of interns for 2016;
- The lovely Emilia from Argentina is with us until end of May; her ferment is “Bru’jula”.
- Alix on the team for three weeks as part of the Burgundy Exchange programme, which we were particularly excited about this year as it is its 10th Anniversary, and we hope to reciprocate in October. With her red hair she chose “Ginger” for her ferment.
- Maurizio and Mattia from Milano, Italy worked with us during the summer and we were happy to have them re-join us for harvest. Their ferments are “Maurizio” & “The Godfather”
- We also had Anne from Provence visit for a few weeks to boost the French numbers. Her ferment is “Sunny days” depicting the weather for her entire stay with us in Central.
As life returns to “normality” we can reflect on the season. As in 2015, again we are very happy with the health and condition of the grapes, mirroring the health of the vineyard. It was a challenging growing season, with a cool and very windy spring, moving into a hot arid summer. The vines now get a well-deserved rest and replenish as we move into winter. We will spread last year’s compost under the vines to help replace some of nutrients removed during the season, and to boost and maintain the soil health. We will also start stockpiling materials for new compost piles, including all the grape stems and skins from the winery this harvest.
Although May is unusually warm, the prospect of winter builds and with it days to recoup after a busy season, whether that be playing in the mountains or nestled inside with a good book and great glass of Pinot Noir.