Central Otago had a very good spring, so we were expecting an early harvest – how wrong could we be? We experienced one of the windiest seasons and due to the cooler summer vintage was delayed. For us, due to our lower yields, the picking dates were in line with previous years.
More work than usual was required in the vineyard pre-vintage on canopy management to keep an open canopy to ensure physiological ripeness.
The season resulted in smaller bunch and lower berry weight which resulted in the Pinot Noir being concentrated with very good structure and weight.
We also had higher average rainfall, creating higher grass growth and requiring extra inter-row mulching with the benefit of an increase in organic matter for the vineyard.
From a Methode Traditionnelle point of view, we are very happy with the quality which means we will make a Vintage. There will also be a 2017 Pinot Rosé and Grϋner Veltliner.
Rudi gave the name “Four Seasons In One Bunch” (which is also his ferment name) to Vintage 2017; saying it was a challenge to understand. And the flavour variation within the pinot noir bunches meant it required a very sensible approach to avoid over extraction.
Our harvest started, with the Methode Traditionnelle of course, on 14th March. In comparison, it started in 2016 on 8th March and 2015 on 9th March; so there wasn’t a great difference.
Pinot Noir was next on 31st March and 4th & 5th April – 2016 was a week earlier for the first pick, on 23rd and second pick also on 4th April, 2015 was right in the middle on 26th with remaining coming in on 1st & 9th April. So overall, as it turned out, not a huge variance for us. We are also quite happy with our volume overall.
Pinot Gris and Grϋner Veltliner were harvested together on April 22nd. In 2016, Pinot Gris was 6th & 7th April and Grϋner was 15th. 2015 Pinot Gris was picked on 17th & 18th April.
So, our harvest was 14th March to 22nd April (although there is still some Loop Rd. Riesling hanging, so we have our fingers crossed for another “sweetie”).
And now, of course, we move into the winery – where the Pinot Gris is still fermenting; steady but slow. Grϋner and Pinot Rosé are finished and have been “put to bed” along with the Methode Traditionnelle.
Our winery team for 2017 consisted Jarred; who joined us as Assistant Winemaker at the end of last year. Our “Burgundian” Romain, is coming to the end of his 8 month experience with us, soon to return to France (he told us this morning, that he will have three summers in a row; France/New Zealand/France, although ours wasn’t our best summer). And our repeat intern; Emilia from Argentina, whose gorgeous smile lit up the winery yet again.
As you (may) know, many years ago we started naming our Pinot Noir ferments. We feel it gives us all some ownership as well as a “personality” for each ferment.
We don’t have to give a reason why we give a name, but here is a small snapshot:
Mine was “No More Teens” as our youngest daughter turned 20 during vintage – and Rudi tells me “No More Teens” is currently still in party mode J
Emilia named hers “Mendocina” … and it is a very pretty girl
Romain gave his the pretty name of “Laura Finesse”, after his girlfriend.
Overall, we are very happy with Vintage 2017 and will look forward to sharing our wines with you over the next few years.
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.