The 1999 vintage was kind in Martinborough. After the unusually hot and dry (drought) conditions that prevailed in 1998, this year proved more moderate. There was some rain over late summer, which provided welcome relief for the parched vineyard and the autumn provided clear calm waether with moderate daytime temperatures and evening cooling.

1999 Porters Pinot Noir

Our vineyard contains a number of pinot noir clones – including pommard, 10/5, Abel, and some clones only recently imported from Burgundy. It was interesting to note the variation in flavour and ripeness between these clones during the ‘99 vintage – and the differing clonal characteristics certainly emerged in the wine. We picked the fruit for this wine in early April. The grapes were chilled overnight to prolong pre-fermentation maceration, and we left 20% whole bunches in the ferment. After regular hand plunging and pipeage during fermentation, the wine was aged in barrels for twelve months. The wine has rich scents of earth and berry fruits. It is mouthfilling, and a blackberry/bramble fruit character overlays the oak influence. The wine has a spicy sweet finish. There was a limited release of fifty magnums of this wine.

1999 Porters Steel Chardonnay

I have always loved the wines of Chablis – the austere, tart flavours of the Chardonnay grape – made in a simple unwooded style. We were fortunate enough to secure in 1999 a small parcel of premium Martinborough Chardonnay grapes from a neighbour, from which we produced a 1999 Steel Chardonnay. This is a wine in which we sought to show the real flavours of the Chardonnay grape. The wine has minimal wine maker input – no barrel or malolactic fermentation, no barrel ageing, no high residual sugar – just straight Chardonnay, showing the influence of Martinborough terroir. This is a food wine, with an intense crisp clean finish.

1999 Porters Pinot Gris

What we really seek in pinot gris is a combination of not only flavour but richness and texture. These characters are born in the vineyard – as a result of low yields and long ripening. Our ‘99 pinot gris was picked towards the end of April after a long, fine growing season and fermented in stainless steel. This wine is rich, textured, with a honeyed finish. The wine is of a level of richness which could be described as auslese or vendage tardive. There is a hint of tropical and stone fruit. This wine will age well and develop complexity, but is excellent to drink now as a chilled aperitif.