Well what a year!!
The growing season leading into vintage 2015 was really one for the books. We had lovely clear warm weather leading up and into flowering pre-Christmas and everything looked on track for one of the best and possibly largest vintages for a number of years.
However right on flowering we had a period of extremely warm weather, and strong Nor-West winds. This in turn caused the vines to slow down in the extreme heat and close stomata at these higher temperatures. As such large parts of Marlborough were affected with an uneven fruit set.
The very warm weather continued right through January and into March. Significant water stress and restrictions upon irrigation schemes resulted and those who did not have significant water resources suffered due to not enough available water to meet the vineyards growth demands.
However due to Jackson Estates foresight years ago, we have a share in a reserve dam that allowed us to continue to supply the vines with any watr requirements necessary.The amazing warmth both during the day and residual heat each night also caused Vintage 2015 to start a full 2 weeks earlier than the average, and only 2 days behind the earliest vintage we have every picked, being 2006.
Starting with our lower Waihopai Pinot blocks we soon had the majority of our Vintage Widow hand harvested, destemmed and fermenting away in our brand new, small batch stainless steel open top fermenters. The Somerset and Gum Emperor single vineyard picks followed and despite a level of shrivel causing lower than expected bunch weights we had from the smaller berries highly concentrated flavours so I am extremely pleased with the quality in tank and barrel. Most of these batches have received either whole bunch portions to the ferment, extended time on skins r fermentation temperature regimes that all enhance, extract and soften the varying flavours and tannins into the profiles that I am looking for. My impression is this is going to be a Vintage of excellence!!
The Sauvignon harvest also kicked of very early in the Waihopai Valley and we harvested 6 blocks out of both the Somerset And Gum Emperor vineyards showing fantastic flavours, medium weight acidity and with interestingly slightly lower than expected Brix. However if the flavours are there then the fruit comes in. J correspondingly we may be seeing a year of around half a percentage lower in Alcohol.
Using carefully selected cultured yeasts and co- ferments we have some really exciting blocks in tank with some beautiful flavours.
The Homestead Vineyard then started to show well and we wound into the Sauvignon Blanc from there. Again great flavours, lower acids and Brix and a measured approach to fermentation management has resulted in some of the best Sauvignon we have had in a long time at this early stage in the season.
Hand- pick Chardonnay and Grey Ghost followed with-in 4 days of each other. Complex luscious notes in both of these still fermenting wines abound. Both 100% wild, 100% barrel and 100% stellar!!!
Last but not least was our hand harvested Riesling- the fruit by now was showing signs of small amount of the “noble rot” so I decided to leave these single berries and small spots of infection in the bunches to really boost some concentration.
Pressed out as whole bunch with correspondingly low extraction rates it is currently fermenting with a dual yeast program. One yeast specifically used for aromatics and one for varietal integrity and flavour profile. I am so pleased we are making another Riesling this year with the disappointment of being caught out in the rain last year, and having to make the hard decision that the fruit just was not where it needed to be- so was not picked in 2014.
From a winemaking point of view- this vintage has all the hallmarks of potentially one of the best ever!!!
Again we do hope you enjoy our wines as much as we do and will continue to join us on the Jackson Estate winemaking adventure!