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;
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.
We experienced an extraordinary summer resulting in the hottest growing season ever in Central Otago’s modern history. Early flowering and ripening meant our normal six months of growing was condensed into a mere five months. February rain brought relief for the vines and enabled them to achieve physiological ripeness, and warmer than normal nights lead to lower acidity. Harvest dates were brought forward to achieve perfect balance.
A has been a turbulent season with lots of wind and the temperature half a degree lower than average in December and January. Although our Central Otago summer was cooler than usual the fruit proudly ripened as normal. As one of the first in the region to begin picking, we began harvesting fruit for our bubbles in mid-March, which was followed by the picking of grapes destined for still wine; Pinot Noir fruit between the end of March and beginning of April. Last to come in was our Pinot Gris and Grϋner Veltliner which was pressed and put to bed well before ANZAC Day! We now also have all of our Pinot Noir parcels safety tucked away in barrels, where they will develop over the next year.