New England wine region – vintage report 2013

A challenging season which saw it all from hot to cool to tempest

Media release
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The vineyards at Toppers Mountain - looking south

The vineyards at Toppers Mountain - looking south

Toppers Mountain Vineyard

 

A ‘challenging’ vintage.  Although often overused in the wine industry, ‘challenging’ is an apt descriptor for vintage 2013 in the broad region of New England. The season saw it all: wind, rain, sun, storms, cloud, hail, wet, dry, tempest, hot, cool…. not necessarily in that order.

“We had a very good start to vintage,” said Topper’s Mountain owner, Mark Kirkby. “There was excellent fruit set and a sensible amount of rain.”

But then from late January to the end of February the region experienced consistent, and unusual easterly winds. These brought showers and storms every two or three days, helping botrytis establish itself in the white varieties, including gewürztraminer, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay.

From March however, the season dried out, with excellent ripening conditions carrying though to the end of vintage.

“We picked our first grapes for sparkling base on the 22nd of February,” said Mark.  “We had to be very selective when harvesting the whites, ensuring we dropped bunches affected by botrytis.  Our sauvignon blanc ended up looking particularly good.”

The red varieties were not ripe enough during the wet periods to be affected by botrytis, with Topper’s Mountain barbera, tannat and pinotage being harvested on the 22nd of March.  “These varieties are undergoing wild ferment now, and are looking fantastic.”

“Our tempranillo and nebbiolo are still on the vine, however it is shaping up to be our best vintage to date.”

Other vineyards in the region were not so lucky, with the season described as ‘extremely variable’ by Ken Hutchison from Splitters Swamp Vineyards. “The quality is reasonable, with careful vineyard management focussing on the control of disease and birds.”

A number of vignerons decided not to harvest given the extreme conditions and the toll taken on the fruit.  “Due to the wet and then hot weather, we were not happy with the quality of our grapes and so decided not to harvest,” said Rolf Blickling from Blickling Estate in Bendemeer.

Both Deetswood Wines and Kurrajong Downs at Tenterfield also decided not to pick any grapes after severe damage to the fruit and vines from a hailstorm that hit the vineyards in January.

Regions

  • New England (NSW)

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April 17th, 2013
 
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