Multiple spring frosts meant many sleepless nights protecting fresh shoots from below-zero temperatures. The spring was otherwise warm and dryer than usual allowing healthy new shoot growth. We removed extra shoots to keep the vines in balance and to reduce excess crop loading. Soil moisture was down on average so required irrigation on our wet blocks. Our dry blocks have sent their roots down deep enough to keep growth healthy.
Summer was mainly dry and hot with little wind resulting in great canopy growth and ripening through to veraison. We had one significant rainfall in January but warm and windy conditions dried out the grapes and kept disease at bay. The flowering period was the opposite of last year's with almost 100% fruit set. This allowed us to control our crop load by thinning excess bunches and ensure balanced ripening. Our Viognier loved the summer and ripened beautifully, as did our Pinot Noir, with ripe tannins developed along with an exquisite range of flavours. The conditions were also great for Sauvignon Blanc, resulting in cooler tropical flavours and lovely floral notes with flinty and mineral expression. Pinot Gris ripened slowly due to the hotter days causing the vines to shut down during the heat of the day, but this gave extra body and depth.
Autumn turned it on with dry, still warm days and cooler nights to retain acidity. This allowed us to pick our grapes based purely on quality with no weather or disease forcing our hand. It was a drawn out and relaxed harvest with bursts of picking fruit which was ripe and then spending time looking after these parcels until the next was deemed to be at the perfect level of ripeness. Beautiful ripe characters developed in harmony to give us great flavours with nice sugar levels crisp cool climate acidity and ripe phenolic profiles. This gave us time to have a bit of a play with some different techniques including:
- Skin-fermented Pinot Gris which was destemmed and left in the vineyard to ferment with natural organic yeasts. This will be used for up to 15% of our 2016 Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Gris to give a nice spicy complexity and textural element.
- Skin-fermented Sauvignon Blanc which has given us some great characters of spice and freshly dried herbs to add complexity and interest to our Sauvignon Blanc blends.
- Viognier Sauvignon Blanc! Marrying our full-bodied and textural Sauvignon Blanc with our cool climate Viognier – nice acidity balancing the typical viognier rich palate. We are watching how this progresses and may bottle this as a limited release if it stacks up.
- Using a mix of wild vs inoculated ferments, some vineyard co-fermented parcels as well as some whole bunch ferments for our Pinot Noir. This has given us an exciting palate of flavours to work with to make some great wines.
- Barrel fermented Pinot Gris to accentuate the style we like to make for our Gladstone Vineyard range, full bodied and textural.
Craig Fryett, Viticulturalist and Winemaker
Christine Kernohan, Managing Director/Chief Winemaker