The very warm '05 Spring, high moisture levels and relatively calm conditions all contributed to very vigorous Spring growth and one of the earliest flowerings that we have seen. As luck would have it, this coincided with unexpected cold and wet conditions in the latter half of November. Flowering continued into a warm December but the legacy from the cool part of the flowering conditions is the lower yields, a high proportion of 'chickens' (very small berries without seeds) and very open bunches for the early varieties such as Pinot noir. The yields will not be reduced as much as in '03 and '05 and there is the prospect of intensely flavoured wines with high colour and structure for the reds. December and January have returned to typical hot, dry and at times windy Martinborough conditions with prospects for a smallish but interesting vintage.
THE AUTUMN RELEASE
We indicated in our 2005 Spring newsletter the cold conditions during flowering prior to vintage '05 resulted in no Gewurztraminer for that year and only tiny amounts of Pinot gris. The good news is we do have limited amounts of a late harvest Riesling, a sweeter botrytis influenced wine that is not able to be made every vintage. This wine, with its pH of <2.7, is likely to undergo an elegant transformation with some bottle age. Regrettably we will have to ration this Autumn Release to no more than one bottle of Pinot gris and two bottles of late harvest Riesling. We have reserved sufficient of the '04 Pinot noir in this, its official Release, to satisfy most orders. The present run of atypical weather through the last few vintages has given rise to lowered crops levels in 3 of the last 5 vintages. This does seem to fall outside what we would normally expect if asked to debate the effects of global warming, you have my vote that it is definitely underway.