The growing season for 2012 was very much in two parts. The beginning of the season in September 2011 was cool, dreary and generally dismal. Bud burst for the vines was late by around two weeks, and the flowering period that followed in early "summer" was equally dull and cold. Temperature and sunshine records were broken for Marlborough through the summer, but not for the reasons we would have liked.
The positive side to the loss of summer was lower than normal bunch-sizes, and the potential for less work in the vineyard to limit crops as we normally do. After a period of cool, dreary weather that we were becoming accustomed to, nature decided to switch on the sunshine button at the end of March, and April turned out to be one of the sunniest on record.
Harvest started around 2 weeks later than normal, and pushed through into May. Long hang times combined with very little disease pressure, moderate crops and low temperatures have resulted in some superb fruit being harvested.
Pinot Noir is a highlight this year, and although the quantity is somewhat lower than hoped for, the quality is at the top end of the scale. Sauvignon Blanc is looking very good across the board, with crisp acidity, and moderate alcohol, and should show some very classic Marlborough characters.
The aromatic varieties - Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling had some real hang-time and took a long time to achieve flavour ripeness, but thanks to the much hoped for sunshine in April, are looking as good as ever, with Riesling responding particularly well to the cooler season.
Overall, despite having our coolest season in many years, we are very happy with the harvest.