We had a wonderful 2014 vintage. In Kumeu the growing season was very good, right from the outset of budbreak on. The weather in November 2013 was exceptional and resulted in one of the best flowering seasons I can remember. This increased the yield, but not excessively so.
Ripening conditions in January and February were warm and dry, and this together with the excellent spring weather brought the harvest forward by a week or so, commencing 25 February 2014. With the fruit in such beautiful condition the hand harvesting was easy and fast. We were very busy in the winery just keeping up with the intake, and making sure we had enough tank and barrel space to accommodate everything.
More than 60% of our grapes are Chardonnay, so we get a very concentrated period of harvest when it all becomes ripe, spanning a very tight 3-4 weeks. On top of that, the Pinot Gris ripens at about the same time. This year we picked 90% of our grapes between 4 March and 2 April.
Apart from a slight scare from the tail of Cyclone Lusi on 14 March (it turned out to be a fizzer), the weather was benign all the way through the harvest, and we only lost one half-day to rain. We finished picking with Merlot on 7 April, thereby missing the bad weather than hit New Zealand later in the month.
All of the grape varieties were in outstanding condition, with very well defined aroma and flavour profiles. The best plots of Pinot Gris are quite exceptional, and the overall quality is very high. The Pinot Noir and Merlot wines are showing the best quality we have seen since the remarkable 2000 vintage.
However, it is without doubt the Chardonnay variety that has stood out above all, as per usual. The individual vineyard characters seem even more distinctive and amplified this year, and the word that best describes everything about Chardonnay in 2014 is generous. The aromas are warm and fruity, and the flavours are big and rounded. The palate shows lovely texture and length without excessive alcohol, and the acidity is well balanced but still crisp and fine with a great mineral feel at the end.
We look forward to seeing how these wines develop over the coming months, but I am very confident that the 2014 vintage will come to be regarded as one of the greatest ever.
Michael Brajkovich MW