Back to back incredible vintages
After another wet winter in 2019, Spring came early, warm and dry. Flowering took place a week or two ahead of normal, and the fruit set was very good. Apart from two wet days just before Christmas, there was very little rain in December. January had virtually no rain, becoming one of the driest months on record, and was followed by extreme drought conditions throughout February and into the March harvest period. The only significant rain in March fell after all the grapes had been picked.
Temperatures during the ripening period of January and February 2020 was mostly in the mid to high-twenties, with a maximum of 30°C for one day in January. We normally expect at least a day or two over 30°C, so this year conditions remained relatively cool to warm, but very dry.
The early flowering in Spring brought the harvest date forward by 7-10 days compared to normal. This, coupled with warm dry ripening conditions, enabled the grapes to reach perfect maturity.
After the early harvest of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes destined for our Crémant wines, we were able to pick the Hunting Hill Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards at optimal ripeness, and these have given us truly remarkable examples of their style.
All of our vineyards were rapidly reaching their ideal maturity at about the same time, so the ensuing 4 weeks were extremely busy, with harvest in full swing in both Kumeu and Hawkes Bay and the winery in 24-hour mode to be able to cope.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris tend to be early, and both were giving us rich colour and texture that have transferred through to the wines which have lovely mouthfeel and weight, with pronounced berryfruit characters on the nose and palate.
The Village Chardonnay vineyards which deliver slightly higher yields and simpler flavours all came on in a rush. They were still able to retain crisp earthy minerality from Kumeu, and some delightful stonefruit aromas from Hawkes Bay, to create a blend which must surely be our best Village Chardonnay ever.
The Kumeu vineyards that contribute to our Estate Chardonnay gave us some magnificent fruit. The level of citrus fruit complexity, and the layering of aromas and flavours that this wine shows are stunning. This is a quality Chardonnay wine of style and pedigree.
The single-vineyard Coddington wine is strongly coloured and richly ripe in the yellow peach and apricot spectrum, with a background of toasted oak and hazelnut. It is the biggest style in our range, and satisfyingly rich as such, but also nicely balanced with its acidity.
Hunting Hill is very distinctive in its terroir typicity, with piercing lemon/lime fruit lift and florality on the nose, with richness and volume in the mouth followed by lingering acidity and minerality on the finish. A beautifully elegant wine.
Mate’s Vineyard is always the last site we pick each year. In 2019 the grapes certainly had the distinctive Mendoza millerandage, giving many small berries along with the normal sized ones, and as a result a wonderfully concentrated palate texture and fruit richness. Although still somewhat shy on the nose coming out of the barrel, with bottle age the full palette of complex aromas and bouquet of this wonderful wine will be gradually and seductively revealed.