Winegrowers Looking Forward To Intense Flavours

Published: Fri 26 Jan 2007 03:42 PM
Marlborough 2007 Vintage Update: Marlborough Winegrowers Looking Forward To Intense Flavours
• The second coldest December on record in Marlborough has seen a decrease in the expected 2007 Sauvignon Blanc harvest.
• However there won’t be any decrease in the intensity of flavours of the renowned variety.
Predictions that Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc crop would be well above the long-term-average were stymied by extremely cool conditions that affected flowering during December.
Dr Rengasamy Balasubramaniam (Bala), from Delegat’s Wine Estate, says following an excellent flowering in 2005, perfect bud-break and a large number of inflorescences on vines prior to flowering, everyone was predicting a bumper 2007 harvest.
“But the four to five weeks of flowering was unseasonably cool, which has resulted in a poor fruit set. It means we are now looking at an average yield, rather than a big yield.”
But that is not such a bad thing in the long run, he says.
“There is always a silver lining. A high yield may have prolonged the harvest, opening the fruit up to the dangers of an early frost, and uneven ripening. Instead the average cropping levels, will allow the fruit to ripen, and the hen and chicken bunches will help provide more intense flavours. That’s because most of the flavour is on the skin of the berry. Increased skin to pulp ratio increases the concentration of flavours, which means those smaller berries bring more intense flavours.”
Wine Marlborough Research leader, Mike Trought says he was predicting a 20 to 25 percent increase in average yields this year. The cool flowering has seen that drop back to an average yield, with the fruit set providing more open bunches, less prone to disease threat, and more open to even ripening.
Wine Marlborough Chairman, Blair Gibbs says the region’s other premium varieties, such as Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay were not affected by cool temperatures as their flowering was completed prior to the cold December spell.
“Flowering and fruit set on these varieties look to have been good.”
Everyone agrees that the vines are in the best possible condition, having had regular periods of light rain, ensuring irrigation hasn’t been needed.
“The vines are looking fantastic at the moment,” Blair said.
Jeremy Hyland, Viticultural Manager Kim Crawford Wines, says despite the cold snap at the end of last year, the crops are not as far behind as he would have expected.
“We still have plenty of the season to increase those fruit flavours. We are behind on last year, but then again we have to remember that last year was the earliest ever.”
As growers tend to their crops, Wine Marlborough is busy preparing for its biggest event of the year – the Wine Marlborough Festival. The 24th such festival is set to take place on February 10 at Pernod Ricard’s Brancott Estate. International interest in the event is at its highest level this year, with tickets being bought on-line in almost every major city in the world, and a few out of the way places also. Up to 8,000 people are expected to converge on Brancott Estate for the daylong event, and will be treated to wines from 55 different Marlborough producers.
The largest and longest running festival of its kind in New Zealand has become an iconic event that highlights the world premium wine and food produced in Marlborough.

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