On Monday 21st March we picked the Chardonnay – 800 litres which will make about two barrels. Doesn’t sound like much but these are very young vines and just our second vintage from the Chardonnay. We bottled our first vintage last year; it’s not yet labeled, and we’re drinking it at home. Colin and I are quite pleased with it but there’s still room for improvement. We decided to plant Chardonnay after a barge trip through Burgundy in 2009, coupled with the fact that clones are available here now which are closer to the Chablis style and Simon is making our Chardonnay influenced by Chablis style because that is what we prefer. Not the big, oaky, turn-your-mouth-inside-out Chardonnays of yesteryear but which some people nevertheless still demand.
Each to their own.
We’ve harvested all our Pinot Noir – we’re always the first on Te Muna Road to do this, and most of our Pinot Gris aside from the ‘James’ which is left out to sweeten up a bit, and the Syrah and Viognier because they’re both Rhone varietals and need longer ripening.
Rob Easthope from Hawke’s Bay http://www.easthope.co.nz/ , a very good winemaker and nice chap, has been purchasing destemmed Pinot Noir from us for his Te Muna Road Pinot Noir. He bought Pinot Noir grapes from us for his 2013 Pinot Noir which was released to much acclaim, and justifiably. If you see some for sale, grab it because it is very good and has that distinctive flavour from our vineyard. For me, tasting this wine of Rob’s was like recognising one of my kids across in crowded street. Not sure if Rob would like that but there you go.
In terms of watching the grapes coming in to the winery, it has, thus far, been a fantastic vintage. Big, tight, uniform bunches, which goes to show how important it is to have good weather back when the vines are flowering and the fruit is setting. We were also one of the only vineyards on Te Muna Road not to be knocked about by frosts this year – only a few bays in our Syrah were affected. Thank goodness for big, noisy, keep-you-awake-all-night frost machines and frost pots burning the midnight oil. Literally.
So here are the grapes coming out of the destemmer. The berries go into the bin below, and the stems are spat out the end into another bin to be tractored away on the forks into a big bays of our new compost station where they will break down and be spread back under the vines as we convert to organic control of weeds.