Spring 1996

A warm 1995 spring favoured vine flowering and fruit set to the point that thinning was again necessary later in the season. This was done on most varieties at veraison (January) to ensure a limit of 3T/acre. From January the unusual weather patterns that occurred last harvest prevailed. Frequent short wet southerlies followed by warm humid conditions allowed a build up of botrytis spores and promised a difficult harvest for some varieties. February was 50% wetter than average and promoted dense canopies. Fortunately the following months were a little drier than average, with most vines experiencing at least some drought stress by mid to late April. Natural berry shrivelling (particularly in the Pinots) gave high sugars and good concentration, with flavours from a little earlier in the ripening spectrum than normal, predominating at harvest. Most fruit was harvested with excellent acid balance and flavour; slightly higher than normal pHs (from the dense canopies) and fresh lively flavours which belied the slightly warmer than average season. The drought stress (and shrivelling) later in the season reduced the expected berry sizes and weights, so that most cropping levels were in the lower range: 1.4 - 2.6T/acre. This has given the wines the expected advantage of higher extract and concentrated flavours.