The dust has settled, and the excitement has abated. There is some room to breathe and reflect upon the 2016 harvest.
The 2015/16 season was full of extremes, mostly extremely dry. The winter was unseasonably dry, the soil moisture was very low. Spring was warm and settled, with no damaging frost, and dry. Finally some rain came in January, perfect for growing healthy vines. Early autumn was very warm and yes, dry. Later in autumn the weather cooled off nicely.
After flowering, Terrace Edge enjoyed one of its best fruit sets ever. Just what the doctor ordered! This did, however, result in much hand shoot thinning, and later bunch thinning, to maintain a balanced crop load.
Due to the warm, dry conditions the fruit ripened quickly, and we started harvest of Pinot Noir on 24th March, the earliest starting date ever. It had very ripe flavours, more towards the darker end of the spectrum than the usual plums, black cherries, black berries; with a lovely juiciness and some Waipara spice.
The other varieties were all following suit, ripening quickly, and shaping up to be a short, sharp vintage, with all the fruit descending on the winery at once.
Autumn intervened. Once the cooler autumnal nights, and frosty mornings arrived, that put the breaks on. Ripening really slowed down. This achieved some good hang time on the fruit. Thankfully the fruit was in outstanding condition, and with nice, thick skins, very resistant to any botrytis. The fruit just hung out for a while in the soft autumn sun, slowly imparting the finishing touches to the fruit. It finished it with beauty and finesse.
It wasn’t until mid-April that the rest of the Pinot Noir came off the vines. The extra time had helped achieve beautifully ripe tannins.
Pinot Noir/Syrah Rosé fruit, picked 17th April, tasted delicious. We were keen to back up the 2014 Rosé, which has a cult-like following, and while we were unable to accommodate in 2015, the 2016 vintage will be worth the wait. Approximately 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Syrah, this Rose, promises to be a unique wine, more full bodied, textured, complex and spicy than most Rosés. Eager anticipation for TE Rosé fans.
Equally exciting is the first drops of Terrace Edge’s new varieties, Albariño and St. Laurent. Albariño was picked on19th April, with the fruit looking great, and tasting great with amazing acidity. Super excited about this wine! St. Laurent, picked 24th April, was rich and ripe. Lovely thick, very dark skins, it will be fascinating to see how this variety expresses itself at Terrace Edge. These new varieties have been treated with care, and only light crops were on them so as not to demand too much from their first season. Therefore these will be a limited release, worth keeping an eye out for. Albariño approximately 90 cases, and St. Laurent, 55 cases.
Pinot Gris came in on 30th April. This was beautiful, clean fruit, with good concentration - rich pear and spice characters. Setting up nicely for another wonderful vintage of the ever-popular Terrace Edge Pinot Gris. It never ceases to amaze.
Also on 30th April the Riesling fruit for the Classic Riesling was harvested, the best fruit we have ever picked for this wine. It should be outstanding.
Syrah was picked on 4th May. By this stage the mornings were very cool, but with some nice, sunny days. Fortunately we had crop thinned this really well and the fruit was disease free. Really happy with the ripe flavours from the intense heat we had through summer. It was an enjoyable day, hand picking fruit on our 45˚ bank slope.
By this stage we were still waiting on our beloved Liquid Geography Riesling fruit. The weather was so dry that it took a long time to develop the desired noble botrytis. Patience was required and it was not until the verge of winter – 27th May, latest harvest date ever, that we deemed it ready to pick. The fruit had some delicious dried, honeycomb-like characters by this stage.
Finally, this very successful but long marathon harvest was celebrated at the end with an outstanding harvest dinner at Aisling Quoy!