Vintage 2017 – Tumultuous start!
2017 started off mostly cool and wet with budburst starting in the chardonnay block around the 10th of September, followed shortly after in the pinot noir block. By all accounts we had a very uniformed budburst, which is a good thing as the vines are at the same growth stages and makes canopy management easier. Conditions remained pretty challenging throughout spring with wet and cool weather. We had some warm humid conditions and windy days thrown in the mix too. By about the 21/11/16 we had flowering taking place with hot weather in the high 30’s this was followed up by a strong cold front (right in the middle of flowering in the chardonnay and pinot noir blocks) then back down into the 20’s or colder with 63ml of rain. Following this we had another 23ml on the 8 /12/16 and 25ml on 29/12/16 followed by a 10/10/24 event (above ten degrees with 10ml of rain in a 24 hour period) these are the conditions required to activate the fungal spores of Downy Mildew. Consequently we have had pretty poor fruit set and we were expecting a smaller crop. By the end of December everything had settled down and the vineyard looked a picture with a beautiful deep green canopy and a reasonable looking crop level. Approximately 20% down on the previous vintage. By February we were still getting the odd rain event and although we irrigated the vines the pastures and country side remained green for the most part.
Then on the 6/2/17 – 43ml and 19/2/17 – 35ml and snow in the Alps! Fortunately the vines were robust enough and came through unscathed.
On the 26th February we picked sparkling base with some of the best figures we’ve had 10.5 B – 3.1pH – 12 TA. All the remaining fruit was of outstanding quality across all varieties and we think it is possibly the best chardonnay fruit we’ve seen!
We have continued our work with the soils and the application of compost tea and in November we took soil samples from inside the vineyard and on the headlands to compare soil health and the results were very interesting. Here are the comments from the soil report made by Mary Cole…. sums it up nicely.
Comments: The difference in structure and moisture holding capacity was striking with the vineyard soil looking moist and textured and the head land soil dry and crumbly. No capeweed was visible in the vine rows where compost tea had been applied. A distinct boundary was visible showing the line where the compost tea application has ceased. The head land soil and beyond was covered with flowering cape weed. The biology showed the vineyard soils to be much more fungal dominated hence discouraging the fast growing capeweed.
Although there was no difference in the amount of plant available nitrogen being produced at the time the soil samples were taken, the soil structure and biological activity of the vineyard soil was much improved and the trend was for more activity in the spring. Mary Cole PhD Consultant Mycologist/Plant Pathologist
The 2017 vintage was finished just before the beginning of May and all the wines are in barrel or tank. The wines are looking great with intense flavours in the whites and great colour and tannin profile in all the reds, we continue doing a proportion of whole bunch and wild yeast ferments in the pinot noir and we are very pleased with the results.