After a delightfully mild spring we felt the stage was set for a normal wonderfully warm Wairarapa summer. The weather controllers had other ideas and a cooler damper season followed putting us all on Edge. Amazingly Martinborough recorded the same heat summations at the end of February as the superb 2010 vintage. The special thing in that year was the perfect March and April we experienced giving one of our best years. March and April 2012 continued cool but the rain did stop in April to everybody’s relief. It was a very worrying time with vintage starting 2 weeks late and real concerns Botrytis would become an issue.
April settled into classic vintage weather and the long and short is “we got out of jail”. A normal picking period followed with average yields and happy days!The harvested fruit was in great condition showing excellent skin quality (therefore colour) and ripe fruit flavours. The sugars are certainly a brix or so lower than normal with no potential natural alcohols over 13% for Escarpment. For many years the learned opinion formers have told us that the wines are too high in alcohol and possibly too fruit driven. The 2012 Pinot noirs will be lower in alcohol and a little firmer than normal with great fruit flavours, more in the savoury spectrum than the plum berry fruits. We expect more elegant structured wines which should age gracefully, more slowly than warmer years.
On the 13th June our team formally tasted all vineyard, clone and rootstock separations which are now safely in wood. We are thrilled with the results of this tasting. The wines are well fruited, clean and sound with excellent colours and length. Currently they are high in acid but will soften when the malo-lactic fermentations are complete in Spring. Essentially they are all very good examples of what we expect from each individual vineyard. So wines which project their place or terroir very faithfully.
From what has been a very worrying summer with a lot of negative publicity it is fair to say Martinborough has ended up with what could well be one of its great years. The wines will be closer to the ideal benchmark we all have in the back of our minds.