The drought conditions of December through to mid-February had effectively “saved our bacon” in terms of how the grapes across Hawke’s Bay had weathered persistent and potentially damaging bouts of rain over the past six weeks.
However, there was likely to be a drop in overall volumes along with a drop in sugar levels and in individual cases a possible rise in the cost of harvesting, leading winemaker Rod McDonald said.
Bright, warm and dry days had seen the critical early development of grapes go extremely well, Mr McDonald said, adding that effectively created a good base for fruit protection when the rains did arrive.
“There was good early flavour development during the start of the season – they [grapes] may be down on sugars but the flavours are there.”
Location had been a factor in which vineyards saw reduced volumes, he said, although the overall drop was unlikely to be major.
Of the three vineyards which sourced Rod McDonald Wines one would be down on volumes as a result of the rain belts but the other two were actually slightly ahead of their initial estimates.
“It depends where you were to find the effects where rain hit.”
He said coastal areas like Te Awanga came through well.
“We’ve got some amazing chardonnay and perfect ripeness out of there.”
Rain often created extra costs due to stopping and starting of harvesting – “darting back and forth” – as well as the need for selected picking plans.
“But you’ve just got to suck it up.”
Mr McDonald said he was at a wine tasting in Auckland about a month ago and was asked what effect rain would have on the grape harvest and how damaging could it be.
He replied that despite Hawke’s Bay’s dry reputation everyone in the industry had a wet weather plan and were always prepared for such an eventuality.
“If you don’t then you’re dreaming.”
Part of his plan was to go with “discretion rather than valour” and carry out an earlier than usual harvest of some Syrah and Merlot so as not to put them through any more rain.
“You have to ask yourself ‘do I pull the pin now and bank it or push on through?”
But he still has some Syrah out, along with Cabernet “and they are in great shape”.
Having a damp end to the season was always a threat and simply “one of those things you have to deal with”.
Mission Estate winemaker Paul Mooney took the same stance.
“We have had a remarkable amount of rainfall over the past six or seven weeks and that is not ideal for grape growing but we have worked around it.”
Mr Mooney said there had been some grape loss.
“There have been one or two blocks we’ve had to leave.”
While volumes would be down it would not be major and he agreed with Mr MacDonald that the hot, dry start for the season had put things on the right path.
“It just hasn’t been ideal in the way it has finished,” he said.
He also agreed that while sugar levels were down flavours would still be very good.
A Hawke’s Bay Syrah has won the top prize at the 2015 Air New Zealand Wine Awards, presented last night at Nelson’s Saxton Stadium.
The Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013 won the prestigious Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Trophy, as well as the Fruitfed Supplies Champion Syrah Trophy. Chair of Judges and Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich said the Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013 was one of the fuller-bodied Syrahs in this year’s competition.
“It’s a wine with lovely ripe black fruit and floral Syrah characters, and very well-handled subtle oak influence,” said Mr Brajkovich. “The palate is full-bodied, with rich berry fruit and firm tannins to fill out the finish and ensure a long maturation potential.
“Syrah provided a quality class of wine, displaying a diversity of styles from fresh, vibrant peppery and herbal, to full-bodied rich and ripe black-fruit styles, with significant oak impact and earthy tannins.”
There were strong trophy contenders across the 16 classes, but the winners prevailed by having that “extra something special”, Mr Brajkovich said.
The second highest accolade of the evening, the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show Trophy, went to the Lake Chalice The Raptor Chardonnay Marlborough 2014. This exceptional Chardonnay also won the Rabobank New Zealand Champion Chardonnay Trophy.
Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Bruce Parton said the airline was a longstanding partner of the New Zealand wine industry, which continued to produce some of the world’s best wines.
“We’ve been a proud sponsor of the awards for 29 years, and are passionate about promoting home-grown wines and showcasing New Zealand as a destination for wine tourism.”
“It’s been fantastic to see such a large number of entries in this year’s competition from wineries across the country. We wish to congratulate all medal and trophy winners.”
As well as the 18 trophies awarded, 36 Pure Elite Gold Medals and one Elite Gold Medal were announced at the dinner, which was emceed by TV3’s Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts. This year’s competition saw 1,407 wines entered, 99 percent of which were accredited as being sustainably produced.
The Air New Zealand Wine Awards celebrate excellence in New Zealand winemaking and are widely considered to be the country’s most prestigious wine competition. New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s 1,600 grape growers and winemakers, has owned and organised the competition for 40 years.
Air NZ wine awards 2015 – Trophy winners
Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013
O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show Lake Chalice The Raptor Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
JF Hillebrand New Zealand Champion Pinot Noir Brightwater Vineyards Pinot Noir Nelson 2014
Label and Litho Ltd Champion Sauvignon Blanc Delta Hatters Hill Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014
Rabobank New Zealand Champion Chardonnay Lake Chalice The Raptor Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
Pinot Gris Greystone Pinot Gris Waipara Valley 2015 Isabel Pinot Gris Marlborough 2015 Saint Clair Premium Pinot Gris Marlborough 2014 Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Gris Awatere Valley, Marlborough 2015
Riesling Ceres Black Rabbit Vineyard Riesling Central Otago 2015 Peter Yealands Riesling Marlborough 2015 Spy Valley Envoy Riesling Marlborough 2010
Sauvignon Blanc Delta Hatters Hill Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 Rapaura Springs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 Saint Clair Premium Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 The Ned Waihopai River Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 Vidal Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015
Chardonnay Church Road Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2013 Lake Chalice The Raptor Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 Mission Estate Jewelstone Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2014 Nautilus Chardonnay Marlborough 2014 Villa Maria Library Release Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2010 Villa Maria Reserve Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2014 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
Sweet Wine Giesen The Brothers Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 Seifried Winemakers Collection Sweet Agnes Riesling Nelson 2015
Rosé Aspiring Flats Rosé Central Otago 2015
Pinot Noir Akitu A2 Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014 Brightwater Vineyards Pinot Noir Nelson 2014 Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014 Giesen Single Vineyard Selection Ridge Block Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013 Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014 Spy Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013
Merlot, Cabernet and Blends Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2014 Vidal Reserve Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Syrah Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013 Matua Single Vineyard Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2014
Other Varieties – Single Waimea Family Estate Albariño Nelson 2015
Elite Gold Medals
Sparkling Daniel Le Brun Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc De Blancs Marlborough 2009
Over thousands of years, 5 major Hawke’s Bay rivers moved and formed valleys and terraces to create over 25 different soil types from clay loam, to limestone, to sandy and free draining gravels and red metal.
Read all about NZ’s Premium Red Wine Region or download and read later.
Our President and Secretary, (with a nominated driver, ie Mr Secretary) embarked on a journey fraught with danger over the recent holiday weekend. The following is Anne’s account of the trip. I don’t know how they coped.
Easter in Hawke’s Bay, or……..The Intrepid Trios’ Travels
To experience as many wineries (and other delights), in the Hawke’s Bay area as possible in 4 ½ days over the Easter period.
The manager – Jenny Jebson The driver – Richard Jebson The navigator – Anne Megget
The trio set out from Grenada Village in the morning, following State highway 1 over the Rimutaka Hill. A slight detour to Parkvale mushrooms and then the first stop – Gladstone, where a sticky was purchased to be consumed with Hot cross buns.
Arrived safely in Napier, found the information center, supermarket and accommodation and settled in; had a lovely meal at an Italian restaurant, and an early night.
Good Friday – Slight hitch – most of the Christian world was shut for today. We have a good cooked breakfast, just in case we can’t find anywhere open, and go for a drive anyway, to find Unison Winery open for lunch but not tastings. Discovered they have a very nice sparkling rose, and a most substantial platter. Drove to the top of Te Mata Peak, saw from there that Craggy Range was open so dropped in.
Slight deviation from wine-ing to visit a Book Fair, as Richard has managed to leave all his reading material at home and has already finished one of Anne’s chick lit books. Went to Crab Farm, Esk Valley, Eskdale, had tastings and a lovely lunch at Linden Estate, Visited Mission Estate for a look around, Church Road. Wonderful dinner at Mission Estate.
Easter Day – Hastings Farmers Market, fruit, olive oil, sausages, all very good; Vidals, The Beach House, tiny place, very rustic, very nice riesling, and late harvest riesling, Te Awanga, Elephant Hill, lovely statue, restaurant very up market, but not much appealed in the wine department . Lunch at Clearview table in the vineyard, exceptional afternoon, good, good food, good wine, a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon among the vines.
April Fools Day – not that any of us remembered ! Off to the Gimlet Gravels – went to Unison vineyard for a tasting this time, Te Awa Farm, Sileni – wonderful merlot infused chocolate, Abbey Cellars, Alpha Domus, Trinity Hill was closed – for the whole of Easter, lunch at Ash Ridge, wine and olive oil tasting at Salvare Estate, and way out on the Taihape Road, De La Terre
Up bright and early (ok it was about 8.30am), and engaged in a combined house cleaning and car packing exercise; then off to Havelock North. Called into Advintage and said hello to ‘Mac’ and then went Te Mata and Black Barn and then headed home.
As expected this was another stellar evening for the Club with an excellent presentation, and some lovely wines, from the Mission Estate.
The tasting included; a Sauvignon Blanc as a quaffer followed by the Fete Sparkling, Reserve Chardonnay, Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Syrah, VS Pinot Gris, and was rounded off with a Reserve Noble Harvest.
A great and entertaining meeting with a brilliant turnout of 43 people. There was a good range of wines and Trevor was one of the best presenters the club has had in a while.
An order form was not available on the night but Wayne arranged for it to be emailed out with the club prices, which last for the rest of the month.
Weltec caught us on the hop a little over timing of the dinner. Seems they have to clear the campus by 9.30 pm so we are in for an early dinner with a 6.00pm start. Everyone seems happy with this.
We do have two places available as the result of a late withdrawal. If anyone was contemplating going but didn’t get their request to Wayne in time, please let me know if you want to come, it will be on a first in basis.
In the news
This month’s “In the News” is a backgrounder on Wynns Coonawarra estate from James Halliday. James is a wine critic in Australia associated with the “Australian Wine Companion”. Lots of good info on the Australian industry on his website. He gives Wynns a five star rating.
And don’t fret that we will miss out on the Mission tasting. They are more than happy to pick up a slot early next year, probably February.
Stevee is doing some great work on the Clubs website. We encourage you to have a look, indeed we welcome feedback from members.