28 Apr The Hawke’s Bay 2016 Harvest – how it went
The summer has gone and autumn has enveloped Hawke’s Bay in a cloak of colour. Our Chardonnay barrels are simmering down as the final stages of ferment tick through, and the transformation of juice to young wine is near complete, The second and far more laid back malo-lactic ferment is beginning, softening and enriching the young wines. It’s still a very busy time in our red cellar, with plunging and pumping over occurring daily, along with the occasional bacchanalian foot stomping to gently extract the richness within. Soon we will begin the pressing off skins phase as vats achieve fruit and tannin balance, followed by the big job of filling all the awaiting oak barrels. Out in the vineyard, we still have a couple of hand picks to complete, the twin tail end Charlies of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Despite early predictions of an “extreme” El Nino”, we did not experience the summer season we perhaps expected from such a long range forecast. The spring through to the end of January was in fact cooler than expected, but then February came in hot and strong, and we caught up on heat summation so that maturity advanced quickly. March was below average rainfall, with rain events relatively light and dispersed almost weekly apart, allowing strategic harvesting to occur. Chardonnay has thrived in this climatic pattern, and is likely to be great to spectacular from this enigmatic 2016 harvest. It has been a year that we are pleased our red varieties are sourced from the renowned Gimblett Gravels sub-region, as this has enabled us to achieve full maturity in these wines.
Once again we have been blessed with an amazing vintage cellar crew, Kiwi’s, Spanish and French winemakers all pulling together for a great atmosphere and harvest comradery. Our wonderful caterer Rae has fed us so well we don’t want vintage to end, and we are all hitting the scales heavier than we would like!
Tony Bish, Senior Winemaker