Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:
Growing Degree Days (heat units)
Looking at the numbers above you might think the 2016-2017 season was slightly wetter and cooler than average but nothing too out of the ordinary and you would be dead wrong! Hence the old Mark Twain quote (attributed in the first instance to British PM Benjamin Disraeli) about there being three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
While the 2016 half of the growing season was unremarkable, the second half was anything but. Looking at the growing degree days, which measure accumulated heat above 10 degrees, the numbers certainly don’t tell the story of an exceptionally cool and cloudy Summer (if indeed Summer it was). Fruit set was patchy and the potential crop at the lower end of the range. Normally smaller crops are not something to enthuse about but this year, with the cool Summer, it meant ripening was not as delayed as it might have been.
After the cool,cloudy Summer we were hoping for a typically dry, warm Wairarapa Autumn but it was not to be. We picked our first grapes (Pinot Noir) in perfect conditions on the 2nd of April and then for the next 12 days we watched 125mm of rain drop out of the sky. The condition of the grapes held up remarkably well over this period but there is no doubt that dilution of sugars and flavours was a factor. Once the rain stopped picking commenced at pace to ensure we got grapes into the winery in the best condition possible – this was not the year to leave grapes hanging out in the hope of a late Indian Summer!
Replacing sugars from dilution is easily achieved in the winery (thanks Chelsea) but concentration and structure are another matter. Fruit flavours, while not as concentrated as usual, are correct and clean so the vintage will produce wines of good flavour but probably for earlier consumption. That is particularly true of the Pinot Noirs which have some lovely, bright berry flavours but not the tannin and structure we normally expect. Overall, a very challenging season and probably a better season for the white varieties than Pinot Noir.
Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:
|Variety||Brix||pH||Acidity (g/l)||Yield (t/ha)|