As the dust settles on the 2019 vintage in New Zealand our Winemaking team can begin to pass judgement on the quality of the wines produced, and it’s quickly becoming apparent that 2019 will go down in the history books as one of our greatest ever harvests!
Harvest commenced nationally on the 21st February in the Gisborne region and was complete on the 18th April with the last of the Hawkes Bay reds. This is a fairly typical spread however following on from an exceptionally warm, dry summer the majority of varietals across our key regions were harvested slightly earlier than usual and the overall harvest was well spread, the vast majority of fruit was harvested when ready under clear blue skies with no pressure from the weather, with incredible flavours and in pristine condition!
In Hawkes Bay and Gisborne the highlights are numerous. Rare to see are harvests which are considered equally as good for whites and reds alike, but that was the case in 2019. Beautiful Chardonnay’s now rest in barrel, with intensely aromatic and flavorsome Pinot Gris, Rose and Albarino wines also showing great promise. In a year with such high quality fruit in abundance, Winemakers were in a position of increasing the ratio of hand-picking and whole bunch pressing, followed by natural/wild fermentation to yield the best results. Arguably the highlight of Hawkes Bay was the quality of the Merlot, which according to Nick Picone Chief Winemaker, is potentially the greatest he has seen across the region in 23 vintages! Exceptional Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines are also on the cards, the hallmark of the reds is their intensely deep colour, ripe tannin and intense fragrance. Excitingly, all our Hawkes Bay brands will be well placed to make their full suite of high-end Reserve and Icon level wines across the varietal spectrum!
Villa Maria Winemakers in Marlborough get to enjoy a beautiful autumn as an early harvest season draws to a close. While the vineyards change colour the team can reflect on a successful season that can only be described as outstanding.
Due to a cold and drawn out flowering in spring fruit set was lower than average compared to previous vintages. As a result we saw excellent quality fruit; balanced crop levels ensured the development of open bunches with small and flavourful berries. Once the New Year rolled around Marlborough experienced a summer of the century. Blenheim’s signature high sunshine hours coupled with a dry season saw crops ripen early without any disease pressure. Long and hot days with moderately cool nights provided the perfect environment to ensure physical and flavour ripeness.
As per the north island, the viticulture and winery team enjoyed the luxury of picking the grapes at their most optimum point without the rush or threat of rain. The Marlborough vintage kicked off with small amounts of grapes destined for our sparkling wine and rose as early as the 4th of March. This was followed by Pinot Noir which came in in pristine condition. Small berries and ripe tannins provide excellent colour, intense concentration and depth of flavor. This year is nothing short of spectacular for the variety; a year subsequent vintages will surely be measured against.
Mid-to-late March our Marlborough Chardonnay came into the winery, which we expect to be fantastic once it matures and develops in barrel; the wines already show an elegant structure. Riesling and Pinot Gris emerge with ripe flavours and aromatics and were picked early to retain freshness and acidity after such a hot summer.
Sauvignon Blanc benefitted from the extra hang-time on the vine as we could selectively pick our crop. As always the Wairau Valley fruit packs a punch and delivers vibrant and energetic wines. We see some lovely thiol, tropical and ripe citrus flavours shine through. The Awatere Valley Sauvignon was harvested last (but not least). Classic Awatere flavours are abundant; intense minerality coupled with zesty lime, jalapeno and attractive herbacousness leaves you salivating for more.
Villa Maria winemakers are excited about the superior quality of wines across the range and look forward to sharing the stunning parcels of a near perfect season.