Prior to Christmas all the talk was about drought. Fruit set was good but would we have enough water to get through the season and what effect would this have on bunch size. Certainly the river was low. But of course Mother Nature intervened and a couple of timely rains in January during the critical cell division phase when the berries size up meant that a crop that was looking average at best ended up above average in size. Our response was to do a significant amount of thinning in our Sauvignon Blanc vineyards to get the vines back into balance. We began harvest on the 29th February – a date we only get to harvest on every four years. We chipped away at the sparkling grapes for two weeks then after a couple of days off we started the Pinot Noir on 19th March which is about normal timing. We had a short rain event which delayed the start of the Sauvignon harvest by a couple of days and we cranked up the night shift to pick our first Sauvignon on the 26th of March. Another short rain on the 1st of April caused a further delay but after that the weather was remarkably settled and we picked our last fruit on the 18th of April.
A key feature this year is lower acidity (by normal Marlborough standards) and bright fruit flavours and there is a nice mineral texture across all the wines. The Sauvignons are balanced and attractive and because we were able to pick at lower sugars this year the alcohols are about 0.5% lower than normal. Pinot Gris looks very strong with good concentration and some very attractive aromatics. Pinot Noir is sitting quietly over winter in barrel and we are not expecting malolactic fermentation to complete until springtime. Chardonnay is strong again this year and we have 27 barrels of new Burgundian clone chardonnay from our Renwick vineyard which is very exciting. The winery is full and the crew are excited as we move into blending and see how the wines come together.