Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes

Published: Tue 7 May 2013 01:23 PM
May 7, 2013
Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes
• Cooler Nights Ensure Aromatic Expression
• Pinot Noir Described as “Sensational”
Marlborough winemakers were kept on their toes, during what has been described as one of the most “intense” vintages ever experienced in the region. However no one is complaining about the quality of the fruit harvested in 2013.
After last year’s lower than average yields, Marlborough benefited from more ideal flowering conditions in December. While there has been some variability throughout the region, crop levels are described as being nearer to average this year – which will help to overcome the shortage of wine experienced in 2012.
The drought that impacted on most of the country, did not affect Marlborough. Instead timely rain events allowed the vines to stay healthy, without the fruit suffering disease pressure.
Hamish Clark, Saint Clair Family Estate’s senior winemaker says concerns early on that the fruit would ripen too quickly due to warm night-time temperatures in March, proved unfounded, thanks to a cooler snap just after Easter.
“The days were still warm but the cold nights slowed the ripening down at just the right time.”
That allowed the fruit the all-important hanging time to develop the unique thiols and passionfruit flavours that are synonymous with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
“The relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous,” agreed Pernod Ricard’s chief winemaker Patrick Materman.
“The fruit is in the slightly riper spectrum, when compared with last year,” Clive Jones from Nautilus Estate said. “There are lots of tropical characteristics and I think they will produce extremely attractive wines.”
While there has been some variability in terms of Pinot Noir yields, winemakers are excited about the potential of this year’s wines.
“There is a bit of variation in berry size between the blocks but they are all yielding incredible density of colour,” Clark said. “The warm temperature we had early, helped build up plenty of tannin structure and the flavours are great."
The compressed vintage ensured winemakers had no time to draw breath this year.
“In terms of Sauvignon Blanc, we normally take 22 – 26 days to harvest all our fruit,” Jones said. “This year we did it in 16. It all seemed to ripen at once. It was intense and we broke records in terms of intake, so yes it was rushed – but it was very satisfying in terms of the fruit flavours we have got.”

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