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Severe advection frosts at the end of April devastated many vineyards in northern Europe for the second year in a row. Although our vineyard didn’t escape completely unscathed on the whole we were extremely fortunate. Spring and early summer brought fine, dry conditions that saw the vines race ahead. Flowering in the Pinot noir and Pinot meunier happened quickly with good fruit set. The Chardonnay, being a week or so behind, was affected slightly by showery weather but was still successful. Following flowering the weather became rather unsettled with a lot of rain throughout August and into early September.
This deluge caused some splitting in berries which increased disease pressure in the form of Botrytis during the ripening period. With such an early season and fairer weather towards the middle of September, the fruit ripened very quickly and we began our earliest harvest on Thursday 28th September. The ripest of the Pinot noir and Pinot meunier had all been picked by Wednesday 4th October (still a week before we’d normally begin picking) and the Chardonnay and second pick of the Pinot noir and Pinot meunier was completed by Wednesday 18th October
Development of a separate grape receival area greatly improved the efficiency of initial fruit processing. In addition, the construction of an innovative barrel racking system and the purchase of new tanks, has not only provided us with the capability to hold reserve wine from year to year but also allowed us to increase our capacity for contract winemaking.
Although the Pinot noir was the highest cropping variety this year, it is the Chardonnay that was of the highest quality. In a move to reduce winemaking inputs and improve wine quality almost all the juice was left to spontaneously ferment. Some batches of the Pinot noir were a little sluggish and were inoculated to remove any risk of spoilage. All of the Pinot meunier and Chardonnay was fermented using indigenous yeasts and initial impressions are excellent.