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For us the 2018-2019 vintage was most heavily influenced by a spluttering start to summer. The success of flowering during early-mid December dictates the size of the bunch and its architecture (fruit-set). Cold temperatures and above average rainfall during flowering meant that fruit-set especially in the Pinot and Chardonnay was poor. Once we re-adjusted our mindset to our small and now very precious crop things started looking up, especially on New Year’s day when the heat finally showed up.
Average is the best descriptor for the remainder of the season. Now average may sound negative but in the context of grape growing in a warming and unpredictable climate, it’s actually a very positive thing. Average meant that we were treated with a long and dry autumn and this in-tern allowed us to run a small and quality focused picking crew for the entire 51-day span of harvest.
Our Hellblock Riesling got things going and the vineyard crew were particularly proud of growing the best-looking Riesling crop that many of them can remember! The majority of our Mendoza clone of Chardonnay was picked before the end of March and although sparse provided the most concentrated and intense juice to treasure in barrel. The Pinot Noir made us hustle when it began to show signs of shrivel due to the high proportion of small berries within the bunches dehydrating. Luckily, we were able to pick all the Pinot over 5 days and retain the beautiful lush berry-fruit characters present.
In the winery, a desire to maintain the integrity of each individual fruit component until later blending down the track (aka geeking out), led to a disproportionately large number of batches and work compared to overall yield. Winery activity peaked around mid-April when the Sauvignon Blanc (very ripe and tropical) was harvested and the Pinot Noirs were well into fermentation.
As often a gap in harvesting occurred once the last of the white varieties were picked and we waited for our full-bodied reds to mature. This year the gap seemed more pronounced and drawn out than usual. If it wasn’t for some tired eyes and prolonged yawns you could almost trick yourself into thinking harvest was starting a-fresh on the 13th of May when the Cabernet Franc was effortlessly picked from the vine. But the habits learnt quickly resumed, and on the 15th the Cabernet Sauvignon so varietally pure and distinctive signalled the end of the harvest.
Our 2019 wines thus far are extremely concentrated and engaging with a real savoury element to many of them — Intriguing and compelling.
Here’s our December news letter. If you would like to be signed up to our monthly news letters contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Merry Christmas and a Happy new year from the bone line!
All of us here on The Boneline are blown away honoured and delighted to have our 2016 Cabernet Franc awarded two trophies at last week’s Romeo Wine Awards. The O-I New Zealand Trophy for Champion Emerging Red Wine was collected on our behalf by Alistair King of Crowe Horwath – and that was amazing – we were so happy! And also very pleased that Boneline brother Alistair was the one to represent us, to take credit for all his wisdom behind our business. Lindsay drove to Marlbrough in time for the Conference Awards Dinner, and to be there when the award for Bragato Champion Wine of the Show was announced –so lucky and so perfect. And totally overwhelming. Thank you to all at New Zealand Winegrowers and the judges for this honour. We are so aware of the many other wonderful wines entered.
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.