2015 Vintage Report: small but perfectly formed

Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:

Rainfall (mm)

Season 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06
October 35 105 69 110 40 63 70 88 126 67
November 55 67 33 87 29 53 11 28 61 18
December 29 36 82 113 25 49 91 74 60 41
January 3 48 43 76 76 114 7 16 31 24
February 36 23 69 36 11 17 121 29 10 37
March 41 71 95 111 85 45 35 39 44 67
April 84 172 35 70 103 7 37 98 43 61
Totals 283 522 426 603 369 348 372 372 375 315

 Growing Degree Days (heat units)

Season 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11 09-10 08-09 07-08 06-07 05-06
October 75 100 75 85 63 86 102 112 113 113
November 117 152 88 120 166 146 186 176 181 156
December 190 225 232 189 268 220 247 241 169 280
January 255 191 230 210 262 266 290 324 274 290
February 187 204 186 165 254 264 244 255 223 234
March 199 145 175 140 180 215 163 233 260 171
April 125 123 119 79 67 141 100 127 108 151
Totals 1148 1140 1105 988 1259 1338 1332 1396 1328 1395

There’s always a danger with catch phrases like “small but perfectly formed” that somewhere in the past I’ve used it to describe a similar vintage. If I have, mea culpa!

The “small” part of the equation was established during the first half of the growing season with very cool and windy conditions prevailing right through until close to Christmas. If you compare seasonal Growing Degree Days, the heat units for October – December 2014 track very closely to the 2011-12 season which produced our last under-sized harvest.

Happily, the second half of the growing season was almost the opposite of the first half with some of the warmest, and certainly driest, months in recent history. Again, using the comparison with the 2011-12 season, for the first half of the 2014-15 season, heat units were behind 2011-12 but by the end of the season had reached 1148 compared to 988 for 2011-12. The smaller crop was further depleted by a couple of extreme wind events in January which hammered the vines and broke several posts. Irrigation was essential to maintain the vines ability to ripen the grapes and to help them recover from the wind damage. The latter part of the season was very benign and with the second half warmth, we commenced harvesting at our normal time, around the beginning of April. With the dry Summer, disease pressure was minimal and, despite some rain falling over harvest, the small crop of grapes came into the winery in perfect condition. Juice parameters (brix, pH, TA) were straight out of the text book and, more importantly, the juice flavours were both expressive and concentrated, “perfectly formed”.

There will only be small volumes of wine from vintage 2015 but, when released, they will be well worth seeking out.

Just a reminder re the Growing Degrees Days table above. Prior to 2013 I used the nearest dedicated weather station to provide the data for our Growing Degrees Days summary. It turns out that, due to its proximity to other structures, this weather station was likely to be over-stating temperature. The Growing Degree Days figures since 2013 are sourced from another local weather station that is set up in accordance with the rules that Metservice specify for siting weather stations. I haven’t re-calculated the earlier seasons but it is likely that, excepting the cold 2012 vintage, they will be ranged around the 2013 figure.

Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:

Variety Brix pH  Acidity (g/l) Yield (t/ha)
Chardonnay 22.5 3.4 6.5 6.8
Pinot Noir 24.5 3.5 7 4
Riesling 21 3.2 7.2 3.4
S.Blanc 22.6 3.3 5.3 8.5

Roger Parkinson

August 2015

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