The El Nino weather pattern gave us a very dry Spring and early Summer before moving to a neutral pattern and into a La Nina, which bought much needed rain at the end of January and end of February.
The canopies of the vines were struggling before these rain events, but reinvigorated, the vine took the fruit through to full ripeness.
The timing of the rains were very important from a quality perspective with a majority of the rain events falling outside of veraison (changing of the colour in the berries). This ensured that the smaller berries were not damaged and we retained an impressive concentration of flavours in the whites and great colour in the reds.
Harvest started for us on the 11th of March with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir for our gorgeous Pinot Rose. The harvest analysis were ideal for the delicate styles of both varieties we are making. The Pinot Gris will sit at around 12% this vintage with a hint of residual and the Pinot Rose around 13%, with that lovely light pink-salmon colour, nice fruit flavours and a touch of residual sugar to balance out the wine.
Next off the block was our "baby" Mendoza Chardonnay from the famous Tietjen vineyard. We call it "baby" as the vines are young. This fruit had great sunlight exposure and the golden berries were harvested mid‐March and should be our best parcel yet. This fruit has been put into some new oak Barrique and will form part of our top-tier Chardonnay that we are looking to release mid - 2017. Watch this space!
The white label Chardonnay (also Mendoza from the Tietjen block) was harvested about a week later. Sitting at around 8 tonnes to the hectare, it was beautifully ripe with those lovely stonefruit and melon notes. This wine is currently moving through malolactic fermentation and looks like it will pack a little more punch that the 2015 vintage!
Our reds, Merlot and Malbec, were harvested early April and are very impressive at this early stage of their life, with an amazing richness of colour. Dark and brooding these should develop into some of the best red wines we have produced at Matawhero.
Last but not least the Chenin Blanc (in true style as the variety is very late ripening) ended harvest for us on the 12th of April. This is an exciting variety to deal with and due to lower acidity this year in the fruit, the 2016 Chenin will be a little drier than the past vintages but still packed with layers of flavour.
Overall, a very solid vintage for Matawhero and Gisborne. Highlights I think will be the Chardonnays with good aromatics and plenty of flavour to boot.
We look forward to their releases from Spring 2016 onwards!