The ongoing search for new and exciting terrior continues and our Vin du Chais, as has become the case, is the beneficiary. Len Evans, while not giving any direct reference or high praise, I’m sure would approved of our evolution towards our own Village style Pinot Noir.
The 2016 vintage introduces 2 new vineyard sites for us with Pinot Noir grapes from Archangel at Queensberry (halfway between Cromwell and Wanaka) and Doctors Flat in Bannockburn (more about this block later). Both blocks are over 10 years old and well established.
The Archangel fruit has found a happy bedfellow in our 2016 Central Otago with fruit from the Hawkesbury Vineyard. Having worked with Hawkesbury for a number of years now, I am continually intrigued by the depth and complexity of character we achieve from what some in the past would have called marginal grape-growing sites. The Hawkesbury 667 Clone gives an openness and ethereal nature providing perfume and lift while the Archangel Abel clone delivers weight and abundance which builds the silky palate I like to see in this wine.
Somewhere between primary fruit and complexity lies the path to happiness.
Briary spice and plummy fruit build slowly and gently on the nose. The primary fruit aromatics are subtle with an underlay of whole bunch complexity adding perfume and intrigue.
The entry shows plush but refined fruit, gently wrapped in a cloak of spicy whole bunch flavour. The tannin is silky and soft yet abundant with generous fruit richness driving the length of the wine. Subtext oak and acidity give this
wine an air of effortlessness.
Drinking well now and reaching a very happy place in 3 to 5 years.
Winter 2015 took a while to arrive but when it did there was plenty of precipitation and white stuff on the ground. At about 9am on the 18th June while blending our 2014 Pinots I found myself reaching for an extra layer of clothing while inside with the fire blazing. On further inspection out the window the 10cm of snow on the ground was perhaps the reason.
Good soil moisture and a warm, windy spring made for an early budburst with good growth. Warm days and cool nights from November 15 through to January 16 ensured growth stayed in check with dry weather throughout. February settled in to classic warm and calm conditions setting up day after day of glassy waterskiing conditions on Lake Dunstan.
The cold nights returned in March and combined with warm days harvest was earlier that the previous few.
There was a brief interlude of stormy weather in March around Queenstown with the arrival of Pete Cullen from the Bonnells Bay Hotel on the NSW Central Coast and some of his golfing friends. Plenty of hot air seemed to create a fair bit of wind resulting in foggy conditions the following morning. Things cleared however with the departure of Qantas flight 122 and conditions returned to normal.
Overall a dry and warm season with a significantly warmer than usual February, Growing Degree Days were up 20%.
While bunch numbers and berry weights were down, Bunch weights were up due to higher berry numbers than normal. That translates to lots of small berries which is good for flavour.