The warmest growing season since grapes were planted at Spy Valley began very nicely indeed. So much so that there were a few “pre-drought”nerves beginning to show with the warm and very dry conditions leading into early Summer. With mid-summer came regular rainfall and plenty more warmth and sunshine. Vine canopies were verdant green and very healthy, with little sign of the water stress that tends to ramp up leading into harvest. For our blocks with free draining soil in the Waihopai we were seeing excellent acid retention despite warm conditions, along with high berry nutrient and flavour levels particularly in Sauvignon Blanc.
Picking began with Easy Tiger Sauvignon Blanc along with Outpost Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the first week of March. Intermittent and at times heavy rain followed through the harvest period, making for a very quick harvest indeed. With our hand-pickers operating at full speed and our machine harvest crew working all hours, our crops were harvested in short intense bursts dependent on the weather. Rigorous selection of bunches and berries were carried out to ensure only top quality grapes were bought into the winery.
We were overall very happy with Sauvignon Blanc, which is showing great flavours, tending towards tropical and with good palate weight. Pinot Noir is showing great colour, and very expressive between the different vineyard blocks. Rose, likewise is expressive and the fruit was very nicely balanced from the free-draining Rose blocks. Chardonnay is showing nice balance with flavours in the riper spectrum. Pinot Gris is looking typically concentrated and showing great palate weight and texture. Gewurztraminer may be the brightest star from 2018, flavours are excellent, and acids tighter than usual. A significant late harvest portion of Gewurztraminer fruit is showing huge promise with its super ripe, spicy flavours and very generous palate weight. Riesling was very selectively picked in 2018 with two parcels of very clean fruit, and three vineyard block parcels of late harvest providing some absolutely delicious fruit, and with some luck and time -wine.