Nga Waka Wines
More
Close

2020 Vintage Report: when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

Growing season (Oct-Apr) data:

Rainfall (mm)

Season 19-20 18-19 17-18 16-17 15-16 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11 09-10
October 84 61 44 42 26 35 105 69 110 40 63
November 43 94 7 118 21 55 67 33 87 29 53
December 104 86 25 44 31 29 36 82 113 25 49
January 8 6 49 52 70 3 48 43 76 76 114
February 23 32 143 53 17 36 23 69 36 11 17
March 148 28 63 62 19 41 71 95 111 85 45
April 5 97 98 139 48 84 172 35 70 103 7
Totals 415 404 429 510 232 283 522 426 603 369 348

 Growing Degree Days (heat units)

Season 19-20 18-19 17-18 16-17 15-16 14-15 13-14 12-13 11-12 10-11 09-10
October 80 93 104 93 85 75 100 75 85 63 86
November 200 144 154 146 118 117 152 88 120 166 146
December 210 233 255 186 187 190 225 232 189 268 220
January 233 305 337 215 264 255 191 230 210 262 266
February 269 223 259 211 299 187 204 186 165 254 264
March 170 229 217 181 221 199 145 175 140 180 215
April 98 86 101 100 106 125 123 119 79 67 141
Totals 1260 1313 1427 1132 1280 1148 1140 1105 988 1259 1338

I’ve always wanted to use a Hunter Thompson quote and the 2020 vintage presented the perfect opportunity with the impact of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown and social distancing requirements presenting some unique challenges and a distinctly different and weird normal for vintage.

Turning to the season itself, the temperature records show a pretty typical year with growing degree days tracking around the average and no extended or extreme hot spells. Although there were several frosty nights they were all radiation frosts rather than the more destructive advective frosts (see 2019 vintage report) and were successfully negotiated by our frost fans with no crop damage. So, from a temperature perspective the season was ideal for ripening and quality.

The real story of the growing season is the rainfall and the extended dry period from late December until mid-March. The overall growing season rainfall total looks very typical but breaking it down shows that from late December until mid-March we had an exceptionally dry period with barely 35mm of rain over warmest 12 weeks of the season. This dry spell was challenging due to water restrictions but the silver lining was that when the rain finally arrived in the middle of harvest, with ~150mm over 3 days, the complete absence of fungal infection events over the dry spell saw the vines sail through the wet with no botrytis or berry-splitting which is extraordinary given the carnage we would normally expect from that volume of rain during harvest. A minor miracle.

The other upside of the dry, moderately warm year, is that across the board, quality is outstanding with bright, concentrated flavours in the white varieties and Rose and remarkable colour, texture and depth of flavour in the Pinot Noir. I haven’t been as excited about a vintage at this stage since the classic 2000 vintage. As always, time will tell, but we may well see some legendary Martinborough wines from the 2020 vintage. A season where the going definitely got weird but the outcome is decidedly pro.

Here are the average harvest parameters for each variety:

Variety Brix pH Acidity (g/l)
Chardonnay 23 3.3 7
Pinot Noir 24 3.4 7
Rose(P.Noir) 23 3.1 9
Sauvignon Blanc 21.3 3.1 7.6

Roger Parkinson

June 2020

Nga Waka, 41 New York Street West, Martinborough
PO Box 128, Kitchener Street, Martinborough

Phone +64 6 306 9832 | Email: sales@ngawaka.co.nz | google map

© 2020 Canoe Wines Limited Partnership, t.a. Nga Waka Wines | Terms and conditions | Off Licence #44/OFF/015/2019