This season enters the annals under the heading “drought”.
The hot, dry weather reduced our harvest by 50% compared to normal but what did reach the winery was of excellent quality and our native yeasts brought out both an extraordinary bouquet of aromas and the complexity of the grapes’ flavour.
The sun beat down throughout the spring and summer. The young vines produced little or nothing and the older ones produced less than normal, partly due to the lack of water. This year reminded us how important water is, a fact often forgotten until the well runs dry.
Flowering began on 20th May, though much reduced as the vines reacted to the drought. However, the small bunches that ripened were of good quality.
Although we respect the Darwinian principle of natural selection, we intervened in every possible way to help the crop. For example, in the south-west facing vineyards we installed shades to keep the vines cool and reduce dehydration.
For the first time, the harvest took place between August and mid-September, a month earlier than usual; this had never happened before at the estate.
The first grapes to reach the winery were Pinot Noir, for our sparkling wines. They were followed by Cabernet Franc and, last of all, Sangiovese. Due to the heat, we left the grapes to cool down at 7-8˚ overnight before pressing them. Maceration times were kept short because of the concentration and phenolic richness of the fruit, and the fermentations progressed smoothly. The resulting wines have great complexity and pleasant aromas but we shall only discover their true potential with time.
After such a dry year, we close with a drought-breaking Navajo song:
over there towards the East,
the corn is high
and stands in the fields
in clumps connected by white lightning,
united by the rainbow.
Here too the corn in the fields
will soon cast its shadow on me.
And I will walk among its ears,
between rounds of lightning flashes,
in immense veils of holy rain,
among black and shimmering clouds,
amid the water foaming on the earth.”