Vintage 2012 Marlborough

2012 was a difficult vintage. A poor and extended flowering led through to an overcast cool summer and resulted in a late vintage.

Fruit set was poor and uneven in Pinot Noir. In Sauvignon Blanc particularly our later blocks it was reasonably good, though late.  The La Nina weather cycle was squarely to blame.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc Harvest started with our best blocks on 23rd April and finished on 7th May with the more westerly facing blocks. This was fully 4 weeks behind normal. Quality of Sauvignon is quite variable we certainly have some excellent components: fully ripe with great structure good terpene based aromas and great length, acidity may be a little higher than in previous years. Alcohols will certainly be in balance this year with nice elegant, delicate aromatic wines being made. Yields varied widely across blocks and averaged 7.6 T/ha 53hl/ha across the whole vineyard. This is only a little down on our target yield.

Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noirs did what pinots should do. In the final account we had excellent Pinot Noir with good but moderate sugar levels. We started picking Pinot on 16th April and finished on 24th. This is three weeks later than an average year. The result of the extra hang time has been to produce intense elegant and harmonious wine with very surprisingly good ripe tannin structures. Unfortunately yields were 30% below our usual target: average was 4t/ha or 26hl/ha!

Weather Conditions

The season started off fine. A wet winter was followed by bud burst about 5 days later than normal commencing on 20th September in the Pinot Noir and a bout 10 days later in the Sauvignon. Spring was very kind; higher than average rainfall and mild temperatures. Nights were warm. In both October and November the minimum temperature was 1oC higher than normal

December arrived with cold wet weather. Temperature high’s were 2.4oC below average. Rain was more than double the norm. The number of overcast days with temperatures below 15oC seemed to be innumerable. Timing for this weather was poor Pinot Noir flowering commenced around 6th December and stuttered to and end three weeks later. The all too brief fine, warm, and sunny weather around Christmas helped the Pinot Noir to complete flowering and started the Sauvignon Blanc flowering which didn’t complete until after the New Year.

Cooler than normal equatorial ocean temperatures sent our usual spring and summer high pressure systems too far south. Between November and mid March most the centre of these highs passed over Queenstown. As the highs were so low we spent most of those months wondering where the sun was. The anti cyclonic activity meant that in Marlborough the winds came mostly from the south and east and these picked up cloud from the ocean and deposited on the land.

 This cloud did not bring a lot of extra rain, except in December but it did bring just endless cold and overcast days. If that sounds gloomy it’s because it was. In Marlborough we are used to mostly clear skies.  So summer stuttered through. January mean Maximum temperature was 1oC below normal; February’s was 2.2oC below normal and March’s was 1.5 oC. None of this helped the season catch up the late start. It simply slipped back even further.

 Then like a white knight coming over the horizon came our Indian summer.  We had a cracker of an autumn with a long warm, sunny fine weather right through to the end of harvest.  April daily mean maximum temperature was warmer than normal so too was early May.



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