Vintage 2016 Report – “The Gods Smiled”

With the new wines safely in barrel and tank, now is the time to sit back, open a bottle and reflect on the vintage that was – 2016.

DN NZ wine Map
From Central Otago – Denis Marshall of Hawkshead reports:

“We are celebrating; and delighted to report that the 2016 vintage year was one the best we have ever experienced in Gibbston; valley of the vines in Central Otago. That is good news as we celebrate our 10th vintage. Spring arrived with the usual frosts but they were not severe and did not damage precious tender buds so we were off to an excellent start.” Read more

In Marlborough, Takaki Okada of Folium Vineyards had a rushed start to vintage:

“Harvest 2016 was started with a small panic.

During my business trip in US, I found several posts online of the beginning of harvest 2016. I asked my winemaker friends if they have started. And the answers were NO!! What a relief!

Normally I have a cup of tea when I am back from overseas trip, but this time I directly run into the vineyard. Fruits were almost ready to pick.” Read more

In the Wairarapa, Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling of Schubert wines have high hope for the 2016 vintage:

“We started picking on the 21st March with our first Pinot Noir harvest, which was a week earlier than usual for us. With the weather on our side, of glorious warm blue sky days, the fruit arrived at the winery in very beautiful, healthy and in pristine condition.” Read More

Up in the sunny Hawke’s Bay, Tony Pritchard of De La Terre is still pinching himself:

“Despite winemakers getting excited before Spring 2015 about talk of another warm El Nino pattern, the pre-Xmas pattern left many of us concerned.

You can never be sure how the season is going to progress and there is no guarantee that you will ‘catch up’ on a cool start to a season.” Read More

In beautiful Matakana, Toby Gillman is very pleased with the intensity of the wines:

“2016 in Matakana started with an unusually warm and muggy summer.  High night-time temperatures and humidity increased the disease pressure in the vineyard, so through January and February the focus was on keeping the vines and grapes clean.” Read More

By all accounts, an exciting vintage. We cannot wait to sample the results! Thank you to all of our contributing winemakers for sharing their experiences.

Schubert Harvest Report – 2016

Vintage 2016 was beautiful, with very warm, dry consistent days during harvest.
We started picking on the 21st March with our first Pinot Noir harvest, which was a week earlier than usual for us. With the weather on our side, of glorious warm blue sky days, the fruit arrived at the winery in very beautiful, healthy and in pristine condition. We only experienced 2 half days of rain during harvest, which is always a relief in the eyes of a winemaker. Harvesting was very gradual and steady as the weather was on our side, and this is the way we like to do it. All of the fruit comes into the winery in small manageable parcels to suit the winery, so we have the time to pay attention to the winemaking process. We had happy pickers, but most importantly we had a happy winemaker.

Harvesting was completed by the 21st of April with the Syrah coming in last. All the wines were tucked up and in barrel by the middle of May.
The first impression of the vintage in regards to the Pinot Noir ferments is that the wines were expressing primary fruit characters, like red cherries and black doris plums. The 2016 vintage will certainly be a vintage worth waiting for and we are looking forward to when the whites will be released at the end of the year, with the Pinot Noir’s and the other red varieties at 2 years away but will certainly hold great promise.

 

Gillman Harvest Report – 2016

2016 in Matakana started with an unusually warm and muggy summer.  High night-time temperatures and humidity increased the disease pressure in the vineyard, so through January and February the focus was on keeping the vines and grapes clean.

 

Conditions improved from March onwards, with drier conditions and cooler nights, although there was still a few tropical systems to watch out for.

 

Vintage itself for us took place in mid-April in fine weather.  Ripeness and sugar levels were very good, although crop levels were down.  We had no problems with botrytis or powdery mildew in spite of the conditions, although we did suffer a high level of damage from birds and wasps which needed to be sorted out.

 

Assessing the wine after fermentation, I am very pleased with the vintage, intensity is better than I expected and the tannins are very fine at this early stage.

 

Cheers,
Toby Gillman

De La Terre Harvest Report – 2016

Overall

Overall, 2016 vintage was a season of two halves – a markedly cool Spring, right up to about Xmas time, followed by a very warm and reasonably dry summer and Autumn.

 

Of particular note, once the warmer temperatures hit about mid to late January, we experienced particularly warm nights and finished up with Growing Degree Days(GDD) close to the exceptional 2103 and 2014 vintages. February 2016 seemed to be especially warm.

 

 

 

What all this meant for the grapes and vineyard management

 

Despite winemakers getting excited before Spring 2015 about talk of another warm El Nino pattern, the pre-Xmas pattern left many of us concerned.

You can never be sure how the season is going to progress and there is no guarantee that you will ‘catch up’ on a cool start to a season.
In response to the cool start, we started talking early on about extra shoot-thinning, possible crop-thinning and certainly opening up the canopies with significant leaf-plucking prior to net application.

 

 

Flowering and fruit-set for us was rather variable with some blocks well down in yield and some slightly up on 2015.

Chardonnay, Viognier and Barbera were well down on last vintage. The Barbera and (some of the) Viognier yield was hideously low.

Montepulciano was about on par and Tannat slightly down.

The only variety with higher yield was our Syrah.

 

The ripening pattern for some varieties this year was rather odd – take Chardonnay for example. The fruit looked and tasted ripe at lower Brix than other vintages. This year we harvested the Reserve Chardonnay grapes at just on 23 Brix rather than the normal 24 – 24.5.
I put this down to cooler early-season temperatures reducing the sugar accumulation but the warm summer nights dropping more acid to provide riper flavours at lower Brix.

Whilst we don’t have Merlot on our vineyard, I understand a similar trend occurred for this variety also. The trend was also apparent, but to a lesser extent, in most of our other varieties.

 

The rain over late-March to early-April (when most fruit is harvested) was such that it caused no major issues for us. The significant contour on our vineyard blocks coupled with extensive leaf-plucking meant that we suffer less than most from rain events.

In addition, the small flat and shaded areas of our main Chardonnay block is now taken early in the season for our Methode Traditionnelle.

On the whole however, 2016 can be regarded as an average to better-than-average vintage for rainfall during the critical harvest period.

 

As is quite common for Hawkes Bay, the weather tends to settle down again in late April.

This is ideal for our late-season varieties (and styles) Tannat, Noble Viognier and Montepulciano. The latter was picked on May 10th in 2015 and again this year.

 

 

The 2016 Wines

 

With everything now in, we are sitting back reflecting on another excellent de la terre vintage.

We’re still pinching ourselves that, having taken on our new vineyard in 2013, we have had 4 excellent seasons.

 

The only down side for us is that our barrels and tanks are somewhat less full than we expected/hoped. The upside of this equation however is that the wines have more concentration – and I’d take this any day over yield.

 

The whites are rich in flavour with great acid balance – “clean, ripe grapes” – that’s all you ever ask for as a winemaker.  The intensity of flavour in this year’s Reserve Viognier and Chardonnay is the strongest yet.

We did some fine-tuning to the winemaking this year in order to adjust to the slight vintage variations in the fruit – as well as an ongoing desire to evolve our wine styles.

 

The reds also have great flavour concentration and colour.

Acid levels appear to be lower but we have to wait for malos to complete to assess the final balance.

Alcohols may be slightly down across the red range this year but ripe/soft tannins, rich flavours and good colour are what count most in reds.

 

Tony Pritchard – Owner/Winemaker

Hawkshead Vintage Report – 2016

We are celebrating; and delighted to report that the 2016 vintage year was one the best we have ever experienced in Gibbston; valley of the vines in Central Otago. That is good news as we celebrate our 10th vintage. Spring arrived with the usual frosts but they were not severe and did not damage precious tender buds so we were off to an excellent start. The next critical period was flowering and fruit set which for us occurs over the Christmas/New Year period. We had constant good weather during this period and there were no serve weather events to affect the fruit set. The mercury hit 33 deg on Dec 27th.

This year the gods smiled and we avoided the equinoxial westerlies that so often batter the vines and can affect flowering and fruit-set. Unfortunately these strong winds blew in the Cromwell area this year and had quite an effect on crops in the Cromwell basin.

For once we had no summer frost. You may think it impossible in this alpine environment, but we recorded no frosts in December, January, and February. We don’t ever get them in February, but often do December and sometimes even in January. This year we recorded our best growing degree days ever.

To grow good fruit we also need moisture and although we have irrigation, natural rainfall seemed to arrive just when things were getting excessively dry, which was very welcome.

For once the elements were working with us and not against us, and with careful vine management of leaf-plucking and monitoring for disease, the crop ripened evenly, and with good weather we were not pressed for time over harvest. In fact we could even hang the grapes out a little longer to accumulate flavours. So with mild autumn weather we were able to complete harvest at the same time of year as usual but with a heavier crop in excellent condition.

 

Denis Marshall – Vigneron

Folium Vineyard Harvest Report – 2016

Harvest 2016 was started with a small panic.

During my business trip in US, I found several posts of the beginning of harvest 2016. I asked my winemaker friends if they have started. And the answers were NO!! What’s a relief!

Normally I have a cup of tea when I am back from overseas trip, but this time I directly run into the vineyard. Fruits were almost ready to pick.

Without having time off to recover from jetlag, I spent next few days preparing for the harvest.

 

Harvest started on 17th of March for a block dedicated for Reserve Pinot Noir, followed by younger block for Estate Pinot Noir.

 

Dry farming has been introduced to Folium Vineyard since 2011. However we decided to irrigate once in November. Instead of 130ml of rain for Long Term Average, we only had 16ml of rain in October and November. After the dry spring we had beautiful growing condition with moderate amount of rain.

 

Sauvignon Blanc for Reserve was harvested on 1st of April just before rain came in. Fortunately rain was only 20ml compare to what they predicted 60ml. Wind blew off after the rain which helped to dry Sauvignon Blanc for Estate. With a generous ripening condition, all our grape had a fully ripe flavor with lower sugar level in 2016.

I am excited to see the end result and share opinion with you.

 

Takaki

FAWC event – California Cruisin’ at Opera Kitchen

California Cruising’ at Napier’s Opera Kitchen – A Fine Wine masterclass and Dinner event hosted by Brandon Nash at the Opera Kitchen Restaurant & Cafe – Owned by Jennifer Le Comte and Managed by Dan Norman.

The evening began with a well orchestrated fine wine masterclass of the following:

2012 Schramsberg Brut Rose

2013 Collaboration Wines Aurulent Chardonnay

2012 Hyde de Villaine De La Guerra Chardonnay

2012 Prisoner Wine Co – Blindfold White Wine Blend

2013 Flowers Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

 2013 Collaboration Wines Argent Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Inglenook Cask Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Directors Cut Zinfandel

CCLineup2

left to right – Schramsberg Rosé, The Blindfold, Aurulent Chardonnay, De La Guerra Chardonnay, Flowers Pinot Noir, Argent Cabernet Sauvignon, InglenookCask, Director’s Cut Zinfandel

Julz from Collaboration Wines, explaining what makes Californian wine so unique

Julz from Collaboration Wines, explaining what makes Californian wine so unique

Julz Brogden from Collaboration wines who worked 8 years in California making wine was on hand to share her experiences and compare her wines against some thoroughbred Chardonnay and Cabernet’s and her wines looked great.  One of the highlights had to be the majestic Inglenook 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, such a storied vineyard, considered one of the best Cabernet sites in the world, this wine did not disappoint and clearly demonstrated why 2012 is considered a vintage of a lifetime in California.





Brandon talks Californian Wine

Brandon talks Californian Wine

Following this excellent lineup of wines, the 45 attendees were seated in the art gallery, turned ball room for the evening.  Treated to a bountiful three course menu (attached), inspired by Jennifer and Dan’s visit through the San Francisco food markets last year.  Brandon put together the wine list for the evening, a dozen selected Californian wines from within the D+N portfolio with suggested food pairings. Highlights included the pork crackling with Bogle Chenin Blanc & the Duck Confit Leg with Coppola Director’s Cut Zinfandel in particular.

Hats off to the team at Opera Kitchen for the seamless running of these events, we have received lots of great feedback and look forward to the next Food and Wine Classic opportunity in the lovely Hawkes Bay.

 

Cheers,
Brandon

Clarendon Hills 2012 Release – Tasting Notes

All tasting notes notes taken from eRobertParker.com

2012 Clarendon Hills Domaine Syrah

90 Points

Deep garnet/purple, the 2012 Domaine Clarendon Syrah has pronounced blackcurrants, crushed blackberries, chocolate and anise notes with touches of earth. Medium to full-bodied with great intensity and purity, if a little uncomplicated, this very youthful Syrah has primary flavors and is approachable. It finishes long.

2012 Clarendon Hills Brookman Syrah

93 Points

Medium to deep garnet/purple, the 2012 Shiraz Brookman Vineyard has intense black and red currants, plums and cherries with some dried herb, tree bark and loam notes. Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, the savory and earthy palate is structured by firm, grainy tannins and a long finish. It needs time.

2012 Clarendon Hills Hickenbotham Vineyard Grenache

93 Points

Medium to deep garnet/purple, the 2012 Syrah Hickinbotham Vineyard starts off with a very peppery nose intertwined with warm blackberries and blueberries plus cloves, aniseed and dusty earth. The rich and full body has peppery and spicy flavors structured with a solid frame of firm, grainy tannins and lively acid. It finishes long.

2012 Clarendon Hills Piggott Vineyard Syrah

94 Points

Deep garnet/purple the 2012 Shiraz Piggott Range Vineyard is youthfully closed with notes of cassis, black plums and mulberries accented by hints of licorice, cedar, black pepper and meaty notes. Full bodied, it has lovely, fine, rounded tannins along with tons of tightly wound, youthful fruit and a long, mineral and earthy finish.

2012 Clarendon Hills Astralis

98+ Points

Medium to deep garnet/purple, the 2012 Astralis (Shiraz) starts off with complex, meaty and earthy aromas wafting around a core of blackberry preserves, preserved plums, and mulberries with hints of licorice, Chinese five spice and potpourri. Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, the multi-layered flavors have very spicy accents and are framed by ripe, grainy tannins. It has a very long and elegant finish with hints of exotic spices.

15 vintages of Schubert Syrah – Vertical Tasting

Much-celebrated Wairarapa winery Schubert was recently named one of the top 3 New Zealand wineries by Lisa Perotti-Brown of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, and with wines like these, it is easy to see why. Although best known for their outstanding Pinot Noir, Schubert also produce other incredible wines, including Syrah.

Kai Schubert, Marion Diemling

Kai Schubert, Marion Diemling

The Dhall & Nash sales team were invited along to Schubert’s recent vertical tasting, involving 15 vintages of this elegant and perfumed wine. From the first vintage in 1999, to the most recent release, this tasting was truly one of a kind.

The table is set for 20 guests, each tasting 15 wines. That's a lot of glassware!

The table is set for 20 guests, each tasting 15 wines. That’s a lot of glassware!

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Left – Kai Schubert, right – Brandon Nash

Silence descended as we plunged into the tasting, pens poised, noses in glasses… then smiles and appreciative glances towards Kai and Marion as we discovered each vintage – a perfect snapshot of each individual growing season. At one point, the resident cat came out to investigate – she felt a little distrusting of why so many people were being so silent!

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Brandon deep in thought

Brandon was contemplatively taking notes – falling naturally into his role as a wine judge. Below are notes on his ‘picks of the bunch’.

1999 – Purple, red medium+ depth.  Game, lavender, walnut, leather, Turkish delight, liquorice, mint.  Silky entry, raspy acidity, firm, dry, fine tannins, salty, long, spicy, minty, green peppercorns, floral, lifted and sweet fruit finish, looking pretty good.  16+ points

2001 – Purple, red medium depth.  Gamey, smoky, eucalyptus, capsicum, fennel, celery salt, sweet fruit, cassis, plums, violets, lavender, floral, dry, layered, rich, spicy, fleshy, long, sweet fruit on the palate, floral, fleshy, long, good tension, elegant, fine and spicy.  16.5+ points

2005 – Purple, red moderate depth.  Game, rose petal, green peppercorns, subtle, nutmeg, jubby fruit, creamy, rich, round, fleshy, firm and dry, spicy, good acidity, sweet fruit, youthful presence, savoury complexity, salty, long, good balance and tension, umami flavour, long, spicy, savoury and salty to finish.  17.5+ points

2008 – Dark purple, red, medium depth.  Violets, caramel, smoky, cassis, oak, leather, chocolate, rich, luscious, black forest chocolate cake, good acidity, plush, warm, silky, rose petals, salted caramel, pine needles, glycerol feel, with balancing tart acidity and dried herb finish.  Very generous, delicious glass of wine here.  17.5 points

2010 – Purple, red medium depth.  Aromatic, green peppercorns, violets, peaty, lifted, cassis, silky, full flavoured, dry, firm, fleshy, fresh berry coulis, good balance, fresh, long, elegant, jubby sweet fruit nuance, well made, delicious, fine, floral, mineral with lovely extract.  18 points

2013 – Dark purple, medium + depth.  Fruity, floral, lifted, incense, chunky, youthful, sweet fruit, high oak notes, slightly reductive characters, more noticeable tannins, need time, carries balancing acidity, jubby fruit and good extract.  Promising Wine.   16.5 points

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Left to right – Curtis Marsh, Michael Hanna, Brandon Nash, Martina Speafico, Marion Diemling, Kai Schubert, Hannah Priestley

As if this once-in-a-lifetime tasting wasn’t enough – we were treated to a veritable feast by local caterer Ant North. As the Schubert team cleared the table of the hundreds of glasses, canapés were served accompanied by Billecart-Salmon NV Blanc de Blancs, as we mingled and shared notes on the wine we had just tasted. Once we were re-seated, Ant brought out dish after dish of delicious food – including barbecued beef and venison fillet, gratin, heirloom carrots and other delights.

Feast by Ant North

Feast by Ant North

Thanks are due to the wonderful team at Schubert – Kai, Marion, Vanessa, Robert and Martina, for your generous hospitality and delicious wines. We can’t wait for the next vertical!

Portuguese Wine – Quinta do Crasto

Dating back to the early 17th century, Quinta do Crasto is among the Duoro’s most famous estates. Located in the heart of the Cima Corgo, just under 2 hours’ drive from Porto in Portugal, this region is best-known for producing Port wine.

Quinta maps

Jancis Robinson calls Portugal “one of the world’s most distinctive wine producers”, where wine has been produced since Roman times. As the 7th largest producer in the world by value, wine has become a very valuable export product for Portugal.

There are several native varieties including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesca, Bastardo and Tinto Cão. These grapes produce wines of great depth, and concentration.

Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional

The relationship between Touriga Nacional and Francesa is often liked to that between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux wines – the former providing structure, while the latter lends perfume.

The Portuguese denomination system (Denominação de Origem Controlada) was actually created 200 years before the better-known French A.O.C (Appellation d’origine contrôlée), in order to distinguish between superior and inferior wines. The highest appellation under this system is the Duoro – where both port and table wines are produced.

Quinta do Crasto have been producing wine and port since the early 1900’s, on their “A grade” vineyard property. The estate covers some 130 hectares of predominantly south-facing slopes, a large proportion of which is schist.QdC vineyard

Traditional winemaking practices are employed, including the foot-treading method where grapes are created under-foot in large granite tanks called “lagares”.

The wines consistently receive high accolades from the most respected wine critics – Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson and Wine Spectator to name a few.

Dhall & Nash are delighted to bring these wines to New Zealand. Available now:Quinta group with glass

2014 Quinta do Crasto Flor de Crasto

88 points – Wine Spectator

“Shows notes of hot stone to the dried berry, red licorice and cherry flavors. Peppery details emerge midpalate, with a minerally finish. Drink now through 2018.”

2013 Quinta do Crasto Crasto Superior

92 points – Wine Spectator

“Very plush, with concentrated dark plum, Asian spice and dark currant flavors that are creamy and rich-tasting. Medium-grained tannins on the long finish are filled with dark chocolate and black licorice notes. Drink now through 2020.”

2013 Quinta do Crasto Tinta Roriz

95 points – eRobertParker

“The 2013 Tinta Roriz (Crasto’s only monovarietal in this vintage–there will be no Touriga Nacional) is an impressive achievement in the vintage. There were times early on when I thought this was the best in the lineup, before settling on the Maria Teresa (granted, I’m a big Maria Teresa groupie). It’s a big Roriz, not thick or jammy, but tight around the edges and showing off some power. For all of that, the power is well restrained. This is beautifully balanced, built to age and very impressive. Showing good concentration and good integration of oak, it kept getting better with air, too. It is probably one of my favorite releases of this brand ever from Crasto. It will be interesting to see how it shows with some age, but it will be surprisingly approachable if you must drink it young. That said, of all of Crasto’s offerings this issue, this is the most backward, the one that needs the most time. ”

93 points – Wine Spectator

“Offers aromas and flavors redolent of red raspberry, with concentrated dark plum and blueberry notes. Presents supple tannins and a creamy, open-textured finish of dark chocolate and Asian spice. Very lush. Drink now through 2022. ”

2013 Quinta do Crasto Vinha Maria Teresa

95 points – eRobertParker

“The 2013 Vinha Maria Teresa is Crasto’s lone single vineyard wine this year–there will be no Ponte–and it is a beauty. Showing the big flavor that this bottling always produces, it is nonetheless a remarkably graceful wine, impeccably balanced, pointed and focused. Over the years, this bottling has become ever more graceful while always retaining its identity. Never bombastic these days, this bottling can be a good food wine, as well as a tasty treat. The bright fruit, laced with a bit of blueberry and vanilla in its youth, becomes more nuanced over time and continues to evolve in the glass. Some air and time does this a lot of good. Its tannins are well integrated, but they do make an appearance. Overall, this is very approachable, but it would be a waste to dive in now. It should hold together very well in cellar over the next couple of decades; let’s start conservatively in that regard. It is a beauty overall.”

94 points – Wine Spectator

“A lithe and elegant red, with hints of anise to the boysenberry and cherry flavors. Juicy midpalate, featuring loads of fresh acidity. Dark chocolate and peppery notes linger on the refined finish. Drink now through 2024.”

 

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