Vintage 2009 Marlborough

A very good vintage; the end of the growing season was exceptional and made for an easy harvest of very good fruit. It was our first full season in organic conversion for the older part (9ha) of the vineyard.


Sauvignon Blanc

A good Sauvignon Blanc vintage; this is a vintage where control of yield and growth in the vineyard was essential.

At Churton we keep our yields strictly under control through pruning to two canes only and then shoot thinning to control bunch numbers. The rain during the growing season was beneficial, we had a very quick even flowering, and this was followed by an early and very fast veraison in the second week of February. We hand picked Sauvignon starting in our vineyard on April Fools Day, 1st April. This was a little over a week later than last year; the result of the cool damp February which slowed ripening down. We are now hand picking 30% of our grapes this is giving us greater finesse and delicacy in our wines. The full mineral character that we are seeing expressed in our own hillside vineyard site lends itself very well to barrel ferment and this portion now makes up about 7% of the total volume.

Sauvignon Blanc has very good structure with good balanced acid, nice concentration and slightly higher than normal alcohol levels.

Pinot Noir

A good fruit set and the ideal growing season meant that again this year we hit our target yield! This is a meagre 45hl/ha or in new world parlance barely 3t/acre. We had very even flowering and followed by excellent bunch development that resulted in very even bunches with even berry sizes.

Veraison started to show in the second week of February and was very fast and even. This gave us good even maturity and reduced the amount of crop thinning (dropping of unripe bunches) that we did. We then had a cool but wet period through to the end of the first week of March. This caused a great deal of anxiety as the disease pressure built. As we started seeing botrytis we progressively moved through the vineyard cutting out infected bunches and opening up the canopy. By the end of that first week of March we were all on tenterhooks, miraculously the weather cleared and we had a wonderful run to the end of harvest.

Picking started on 28th of March about 10 days later than 2008 and finished on 3rd April when we picked The Abyss block. Despite the poor weather in February the fruit was generally in excellent condition. We did some hand sorting throughout the vintage and yet again the best block was Abyss. The wines are supple with good fruit and perhaps slightly stronger tannin structure than 2008.

Weather Conditions

The 2009 growing season was very tricky. We experienced a wet winter with well over double the monthly rainfall in July, August and September. This cycle continued through spring and into early summer. However, flowering occurred in very good warm and dry conditions and as a result we had excellent fruit set.

Then the weather turned wet again for ten days or so. This spurt of water ensured excellent cell division and resulted in relatively large berry sizes. From there until the end of veraison, which occurred in mid February for both Sauvignon and Pinot, the weather was warm and very dry.

We then had four weeks of intermittent rain. This is quite unlike the usual Marlborough pattern. We kept on telling the vineyard crew that the under vine strip would stop growing… but it didn’t. So under vine mowing turned into one of the biggest jobs of the season. During this wet period the disease pressure started to build and caused quite a lot of anxiety. As we only use organic sprays this season was a real test. It caused quite a lot more work in the vineyard with crop adjustment; ensuring the canopy was open; and keeping the under story from being too vigorous.

Fortunately at the end of the first week of March the weather cleared up and we had the classic Marlborough Indian Summer with endless warm dry days and cool nights. This lasted throughout vintage with only one small rain event of 4mm to interrupt proceedings.

Churton Sauvignon Blanc 2009 released on the Winter Solstice (21st June) 2010.
Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Tasting note

Churton Pinot Noir 2009 released in 2010.
Churton Pinot Noir 2009 Tasting note



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