Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Warwick Harvest Report 2010

The 2010 vintage was one of the most labour intensive and logistically demanding in a long time. We experienced spring rains ,severe southeast winds ,100 mm of rain in November and a 10 day summer heat wave at the end of January .
The season was not excessively hot except for the heat wave and there was very little rain that influenced winemaking. We had about 20 mm in February and 7 mm of rain in March.
The enormous variation in budding , flowering and ripening times necessitated far more time in the vineyards than usual but we were able to handle this extra curveball .
Optimal ripeness and sugar levels were difficult to manage as the early ripening varietals was slow to ripen and the late ripening varietals ripened quicker than normal. This vintage truly tested our skills and experience.
Close monitoring of weather conditions and ripening patterns allowed us to act swiftly in terms of vineyard management and harvesting at optimal ripeness. Through careful planning during the harvesting period itself we ensured grapes could be harvested in time by extending picking hours and utilizing weekends.
Although our crops were down by 20%, we are pleased with the overall wine quality. Our harvest started a week later than in 2009 and lasted only 35 days when we finished with Block 6 , Cabernet sauvignon. Essentially about 3 weeks were shaved off from the regular harvesting period putting increased pressure on our cellar crushing capacity and fermentation space. In this regard the lighter crop was a blessing.
The grapes held their acids and came into the winery with very low pHs. This is always a great measurement of your vines health and in-balance viticulture practices. We saw the younger blocks of Pinotage and Cabernet franc producing high levels of Fructose and Mallic acid. This is not ideal, and is definitely the two blocks that suffered the most through this difficult vintage.
The Sauvignon Blanc is showing amazing potential, and with the extended lees contact we are allowing the wine, it is improving by the day. We are certain the 2010 vintage of Professor Black will be one of the best.
The Chardonnay is showing very well, although it is still very early to predict what 9 months in the barrel will do, we are confident the quality is a step up from the last two years.
All the reds have intense color and great complex tannin extractions. This is normally a good indicator for quality.
In general, we believe Warwick pulled together well and managed to have outstanding wines in the winery, despite the difficulties we faced during harvest 2010.
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