Thirteen spring frosts – more than twice what we would expect – meant a cool, slow start to the season, with lots of long nights for the vineyard team. Luckily the frost protection measures in place worked well and we came through with minimal damage.
The cool weather continued into the summer months which meant growth was about two weeks behind previous seasons and cropping levels had to be adjusted to ensure adequate ripening in the autumn.
We were very strict with thinning at veraison, ensuring the fruit was as physiologically uniform as possible by removing any bunch that was slightly behind. Extra leaf plucking was also carried out to make sure the bunch zone was open and fruit exposed to sunlight and airflow.
Weather patterns returned to normal in February with lots of warm dry days and cool nights, the perfect conditions for ripening grapes. Vintage started on 10 April and the dry warm conditions meant harvest was stress-free and staggered over a five week period. The extended hang time lead to fantastic flavour development across all varieties and we picked just as each variety and clone reached optimum ripeness.
We harvested Sauvignon Blanc in the cold of the early hours of the morning, maintaining perfect fruit intensity and vitality; the Pinot Gris slowly built its layers of flavour in the afternoon sun and the Pinot Noir got more and more concentrated without the rapid rise of sugars, meaning big flavour without the sky-high alcohol levels in the final wines.
Because of the cooler year, the Sauvignon Blanc will reflect a slightly higher acidity than in other years; but this will be nicely balanced by the opulent flavours and full mouth-feel on these wines. We managed some extended lees-work which helps build the palate weight and gives more body to the minerality that is a classic character of a Gladstone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.
In the same way, our Pinot Gris has a bit more acidic backbone, which is great for this full bodied aromatic. Layers of stone fruit, floral aromas and textural complexity are the main-stay characters prevalent in these wines.
We have a Riesling and Viognier again this year. The Riesling will be a classic Gladstone Vineyard: dry, austere, great with food and good ageing potential. The Viognier was treated a bit more delicately this year, with only 15% barrel matured in old French oak. We did this to keep the lovely floral components intact and let the wines' more delicate side come to the fore in a reflection of the vintage. The Rosé (produced from Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec) has a nose of strawberries and cherries with a nice lick of acid to keep the palate fresh and vibrant.
The Pinot Noir is now in barrel. Despite tonnage being down about 20% from previous years, the condition of the fruit from our various sites was exceptional, allowing us to play with the different batches and make sure each reflects the site and terroir. We experimented with a array of techniques, some very modern and some ultra traditional, and are looking forward to see what the end result will bring. We're confident it will be as good as any we have made.
A blend of specially selected rows of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec are destined for our renowned Bordeaux-style Auld Alliance. This is showing good intensity and dark berry and spice components and will be maturing in barrels for the next 14 months.
Christine Kernohan, Managing Director/Chief Winemaker
Kyle Mason, Viticulturalist
Gerhard Smith, Winemaker