After two seasons of pruning the Winter vineyard site in Bannockburn I have a pretty good idea of where every boulder and rabbit burrow is across the block, not to mention how different parts of the vineyard grow. This is a tiny block of land that is split over 3 distinct parts, the Loams (0.24 Hectares of 777 Clone) at the top of the block, the Terraces (0.15 Hectares of 115 Clone) which separate the upper and lower blocks and the Gravels (0.6 Hectares of 115 and Abel Clones) which run down to the Kauwarau River. There is an altitude change of about 25 metres between the top and bottom blocks and the soils vary dramatically, as the names suggest, across the blocks. With the healthy growing season and good crop, we did not need to go outside this vineyard for additional fruit for the 2014 harvest. The exciting side of this is the opportunity to take different parts of the vineyard with a different clonal makeup and treat them differently in the winery. Over time this vineyard has taught me a lot about natural tannin and tannin management in the finished wines. How and to what degree we work on tannin extraction as well as the effect on the final wine and its trajectory to maturity have become apparent with more experience. One thing we learnt from the 2013 Winter Vineyard cuvee was not to rush things and as a result we have waited 5 years to release our 2014 vintage. The results, another layer of understanding in the rich tapestry we know as Bannockburn Pinot Noir.
If there is a single wine we have made to date that speaks most of site it is this one. At five years old there is still primary fruit presence, red berries and spice with an underlay of earthy, briar and thyme. Gentle aromatic lift disguises subtle power and depth in the bouquet. Raspberry notes are woven through dusty graphite, almost liquorice like, perfume, all washed over wet slatey rocks. There is a breeze of Quartz dust or silica that is reminscant of the vineyard dust in the air. The wine is fine boned as well. Juicy red fruit on the entry with vibrant acidity picks up and carries the structure of the wine almost immediately. Open and airy with fine but long tannins that have resonant texture. Lingering and bright, there is still plenty of youth in this wine so a wonderful wine to drink now but will continue to evolve given a few more years in bottle, if you can wait that long!
The wise heads of grape growing will tell you that with a few exceptions there are no bad vintages and that each vintage is just different from
those before. Well, 2013 and 2014 are a case in point. A relatively warm 2013 winter with good rain in June/July ensured moderately
comfortable pruning conditions. The frosts of mid-winter were not as severe and the cloud inversion that can sit over the vineyards of
Bannockburn had generally lifted by midday instead of the usual 3pm. The mild winter and good soil moisture set up an early budburst and a
great start to the growing season with the only hiccup being a few nervous nights where the mercury dropped below zero in late October.
Calm and dry conditions prevailed through November and December with a timely 30mm of rain in early January relieving any stress in the
vineyard. From that time on apart from a cold 24 hours around the 18th of January and a heat spike in early February things remained dry and
mild. Sugars accumulated slowly with good acid retention and plenty of flavour in the fruit. After the richness and riper punch of 2013, 2014
has delivered finer structure and finesse with natural balance. I think this vintage will show very good longevity, only time in the cellar will tell.
Hand picked on the 9th & 18th April at 24 Brix. 100% Winter Vineyard Bannockburn - 50% Abel, 25% 115, 25% 777. 35% whole bunch inclusion with the balance whole berry. 30% new French oak barriques with the balance 1- and 2-year-old barrels.