Meadow like inter-rows gave way to dusty tracks, before myriads of mushrooms ruled the plains. Other than some great breakfasts the lead into the harvest evoked a sense of nervousness due to the strange and unpredictable season so far. With ex-tropical cyclone Debbie breathing down on us we decided the long-awaited patch of calm weather was not going to eventuate and the harvest began on the last day of March.
Riesling was the first variety picked — rigorous crop thinning early in the season provided us with engaging flavours and juicy acidity. Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay soon followed with sporadic picks of certain clones and areas according to maturity levels. We realised very early on that if we were going to up-hold our standards of super premium wine production we relied heavily on the pickers scrutinizing every bunch and discarding anything that didn’t meet the grade. Because of this picking was slow and crops were down significantly but the Chardonnays are pure and Sauvignons excitingly expressive.
When ex- tropical Cyclone Cook started rolling towards us, we hedged out bets by picking the more fragile French clones of Pinot Noir before the system, and hanging the more robust Swiss clones through it. Preliminary grading of the wines shows variance in makeup a bit like the variance in weather — the earlier picks being quite tutti-fruity while the later picks are dark with great savoury spice. The bones of a great Waimanu Pinot Noir are present in the cellar, it will be a matter of selecting the best parcels and combination thereof to produce a complete wine worthy of its place.
Something very strange happened after Cyclone Cook dissipated into the Pacific… the sun came out! Two whole weeks of sunshine got things moving in the Cabernet Franc, and it wasn’t until the morning frosts were starting to bite that we decided to pick it on the 10th May. The fruit is currently still soaking in vat following fermentation but early signs show bright red and black fruit characters and classic earthy franc complexity.
We believe that through sacrifice, hard work, a hefty picking bill and clever wine growing our 2017 wines will show great integrity and expression of a wild season at our site.