Settled weather over spring time, although slightly cooler than normal, gave us less wind damage from those brisk westerly flows. We noted a slightly heavier crop load and also the increased number of small berries within the bunch itself. As I’ve previously said, February and March were lovely – dry and warm. Our vineyard next to the house escaped the worst of the December frost, although our little block of Pinot gris lost about 50% , it will be a very small white wine production this year. We began the harvest on the 4th of April as the Brix on one block was getting towards 24 and we like to peg back the alcohols as they can play havoc with back palate phenolics and make the wines a bit wonky. The gorgeous dark berry flavours were all there, skins nicely thinned and the seeds a lovely nut brown. We also harvested a small batch at around 22 brix, as the acids and flavours looked very nice, and we do like to have a fresh, expressive character within the final blend or blends. The remainder of the block and the Pinot gris was harvested 14-20 days later. The small Pinot noir berries in this block sitting at about 25 brix were the perfect foil for the larger berries in the 22-22.5 range. The Pinot Gris juiced out at a hair under 23.4, with a lovely fresh pear juice note on the nose. We kept the Pinot noir on skin for an extended maceration, allowing an extra 7-12 days (depending on the batch) in order to allow the tannin expression to mature. We’ve found that this block likes a little post ferment maceration, in order to soften some of it’s more egregious tannins and edges.
After we press off the skins, we leave the wine for 24-48 hours to settle and then rack the tanks into French only barrels. We can tell by the gentle prickling that malolactic ferment is underway. This will probably slow down now winter has arrived, and will re-energise again in spring. In the interim, we will bottle the 2014 Estate and Reserve blends, and spend time polishing the 2015 blends. And those are looking as every bit as good as the 2016’s.