An exceptionally mild Spring of 2015 allowed for uniform flowering and fruit set facilitating larger bunches and the prospect of a ‘bumper’ crop for the 2016 vintage.
A warm and dry summer was interrupted in January when 70mm of rain fell. This created some challenges due to the increased humidity and fungal pressures for all white varieties but was timely for the red varieties which were some two months from being harvest ready.
We commenced harvesting Chardonnay (clones P58 and 95) on 10 February which we consider a ‘normal’ start time for vintage. The higher crop loads in the Chardonnay kept us busy as all of this fruit was harvested by hand – thanks to the influx of backpackers. Pinot Blanc and Semillon were next with Sauvignon Blanc the last white variety to be harvested on 29 Feb. Typically Baume levels were slightly up and acid levels were down. The results are consistent with a warm and dry season. The resulting wine quality looks very good to excellent with Chardonnay and Semillon the outstanding white varieties.
Warm and dry conditions prevailed as we moved into the red varieties starting with our estate Merlot and (first crop of) Malbec on 9 March. All red varieties were also carrying larger than average crop load so ripening was gradual rather than accelerated. The quality of both these parcels was outstanding and may necessitate a V16 release of a varietal Merlot. The late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon proved to be more of a challenge with rain falling late in the third week of March. We decided to harvest prior to the predicted rain which turned out to be the right call as 25mm fell causing problems and further delaying ripening. Though we’re yet to finish pressing and are holding some red parcels on skins for extended maceration, we’re very pleased with the colour, fruit aromatics and depth of flavour of the reds in general and rate the vintage for them to be significantly better than 2015.
The Lenton Brae winery crew.