Archive for Wine Harvest

A Recap of the 2016 Harvest at England’s Gusbourne Estate

“We’re having a wonderful harvest of both quality and quantity,” said Andrew Weeber Chairman and founder of Gusbourne during their  2016 harvest.

Gusbourne's freshly picked Chardonnay grapes
     Gusbourne’s freshly picked Chardonnay grapes
This year’s vintage in England started off with variable damp, cool weather, unfortunately similar to many other wine regions around Europe in 2016.  But, unlike other areas in England that were affected by frost in May, Gusbourne’s vineyards were mostly sheltered, benefiting from being fortuitously located in the Southeast, where the most warm weather in England was seen this vintage.

It’s no doubt that the several weeks of 20 to 30 degree Celsius days leading up to harvest turned the ship known as the 2016 vintage around.  As a result, Gusbourne finished earlier than anticipated on October 7th in its’ Kent vineyards.   In many other places in England, harvest continued nearly to the end of October.

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                             Gusbourne’s Kent Vineyard

Gusbourne’s secret weapon could be its Kent vineyard, which make up two-thirds of the estate’s vineyard holdings.

Soil in Gusbourne's Kent Vineyard
                         Soil in Gusbourne’s Kent Vineyard

“We have a lot of clay and a lot of sand within these sites and what we find is that we’re often the most earliest ripening site in the country,” according to Charlie Holland, Gusbourne’s head winemaker.

The Kent vineyards also have some other important attributes, namely a cool breeze that keeps disease away and it offers, “a nice protected micro-climate, southeast corner, kept away from all the bad weather coming in from the Atlantic,” according to Charlie Holland.

Head Winemaker Charlie Holland
                  Gusbourne Head Winemaker Charlie Holland

So far, most of the grapes harvested will naturally reach the desired 10.5% of alcohol without chapitalization or the addition of sugar at the time of fermentation.  In addition, the acidity and PH are all in line with the best sparkling wines.

“The 2016 vintage has been perfect in terms of the acid/sugar profile, we are able to have warm enough days to get the sugars up to where we need to be for secondary fermentation, but also we have cold, cold nights so we retain all that acidity,”  said Head Winemaker Charlie Holland.

The estate was taken over in 2004 by Andrew Weeber and grape vines were planted for the first time.  By 2010, the first Gusbourne wines were released onto the market with the vision that Gusbourne sparkling wines compete head to head with the best sparkling wines offered around the world.

“We’re not Champagne. We have to be better than Champagne,” says owner Andrew Weeber.   As if to prove the point, the estate has since won numerous wine awards solidifying Gusbourne’s position on the international sparkling wine scene.

The estate focuses on traditional sparkling wine production, growing only the classic varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier .  The production is divided between Champagne and Burgundy clones. Speaking of his use of Burgundy clones, Head Winemaker Charlie Holland adds, “what that means is you get a lower yield with more intensity of flavor.”

It was exciting to see the beautiful grapes and to taste some of the just fermenting juice.  It is clear 2016 will be a vintage that will be very pleasing to consumers, even if they will have to wait minimally four years for the chance to try them.

Currently, Gusbourne offers three sparkling wine offerings; a Blanc de Blanc, a Rose and a Brut Reserve and in very limited quantity depending on the year, a still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The 2016 Harvest in the Mosel and Weingut S.A. Prϋm

Raimund Prϋm at the Sitt tasting in London

Raimund Prϋm at the Sitt tasting in London

It was the best of times, and the worst times. Or, to sum up the 2016 vintage in the Mosel region of Germany, it was a nerve-wracking vintage with plenty of ups and downs.

Hail storms in the spring damaged vineyards between Wehlen and Graach and the cool, wet conditions led some to report mildew and botrytis. This was a year that required diligent, expert vineyard management.

“Our vineyard manager [Tomasz] worked so close to the weather conditions that we had none of those infections in our own [vineyards]…All [our] grapes stayed healthy and great looking,” explained Raimund Prϋm, owner and winemaker at Weingut S.A. Prϋm.

Riesling grapes from S.A. Prϋm's vineyards, courtesy of S.A. Prϋm

Riesling grapes from S.A. Prϋm’s vineyards, courtesy of S.A. Prϋm

Although, conditions improved and warmed up in July, the cold, unseasonable weather reared its ugly head again in August, leading to more hail.

“August hail hurt the grapes growing in the best parts of Wehlener Sonnenuhr, and destroyed a hope for outstanding and top qualities[there],” said Prϋm.

Fortunately, by September the weather changed again, as a warm, dry and sunny autumn unfolded.  The grapes ripened and turned a beautiful golden color and attained beautiful aromatics.  But, with no rain for weeks, the sugar numbers weren’t as high as expected.

By October 8th, the vineyard manager at Weingut S.A. Prϋm selected out the hail damaged and botrytis effected grapes and showing nerves of steel, left the remaining harvest to ripen for an extra two weeks to up sugar levels. The risk paid off. A whopping 99.2% of Weingut S.A. Prϋm’s 2016 harvest consists of prädikat level wines with the following break-down:

30.5% Kabinett

63.0% Spätlese

5.5% Auslese

“The first two weeks of our harvesting time we stayed in the middle Mosel picking and selecting. After those two weeks we started at the Ruwer valley and finally organized the harvest in Saar valley with Ockfener Bockstein,” said winemaker Raimund Prϋm.

The estate has 38.5 hectares of vineyard with holdings all over the Mosel and like most top producers, S.A. Prϋm uses “spontaneous fermentation” or natural yeasts to ferment its wines, which some think adds complexity to the wine.  The estate also boasts a new winemaker from Portugal, Miguel Barrosso Louro.  According to Prϋm, ”[Miguel has been ]checking quality from summer to Fall and from vine into the barrel all the time.”  Success is the goal at S.A. Prϋm.

“Today, most of our wines are still in the fermenting process, but we can report already the enormous concentration of fantastic fruit notes and high extract,” says Prϋm, adding that the “long finish” on the wines get’s the estate excited about the new 2016 vintage.

The 2016 wines are slated to be tasted for the first time publicly on the 1st of April at S.A. Prϋm’s Annual Young Wine Tasting.

A Quick Overview of Harvest 2016 in the Rheingau

On a recent trip last month to Germany, I took some pictures of two estates in the Rheingau, Weingut Robert Weil and Steinbergkeller to get a sense of what is going on in the region.

Like most other places in Europe, the Spring was wet and a bit cold, but followed by an amazing Autumn.  Thus, the quality for 2016 looks to be very good.

Also, was able to taste through the 2015′s at Weingut Robert Weil.  The whole range was excellent, but especially liked some of the dry wines.

The 2016 Harvest in Austria at Bioweingut Weingut Diwald; Another Very Good Vintage

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“2016 had two faces: a terrible spring and a wonderful autumn,” according to top Austrian Bio wine producer Weingut Diwald.

During a hectic harvest Elixrr was able to get a few words from winemaker Martin Diwald about the 2016 harvest, which is looking like another delicious vintage for wine lovers…

E: How would you describe this harvest in your region from bud burst onwards?

Martin Diwald [MD]: 2016 started with a very wet winter which is in principle very good as you top up water supply for the summer months. Bud burst was time-wise normal and was good. In may there was a late frost in Austria which affected a lot of regions including Wagram. Nevertheless, in our villages the damages were not too bad. For myself let’s say about 5%. Blossom was also rather normal beginning to middle of June, but at this time it also started that we had a lot of rain. Much more than we are used to have. Therefore the protection of the vines against mildew and other diseases was extremely intense in 2016. Also the canopy management which is also part of the protection. We had to go in our vineyard twice or three times. Very early we took away leaves from the shady side to let the wind to the grapes, but also protect them from sunburn. Then new “secondary” shoots sprouted inside the canopy, which we took out again. At this time we also did a green harvest for some vineyards where yields where too big. Late August we took away leaves from the sunny side to get the grapes ripe. At this time the weather was also nice, which results actually in a very nice and healthy vintage. All in all you can see that it was an extremely intense season. Except the harvest which is rather easy it was probably one of the hardest season I had in the last 10 years.

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E: How would you compare this vintage to other recent vintages?

MD: It is hard to tell yet how wines will develop as we are still harvesting. I think that it will be overall a very good quality white and red. The whites have enough acidity and we are able to harvest late and everything at the time we want. This is very important for me to wait for cold nights, which we have since beginning of October. If you want to compare it with another vintage I would say that it is somewhere between 2012 and 2013. 2013 for me one of the best white wine vintages in the last then years, but 2013 had lower yields than 2016 and less rain. 2012 was rather warm and overall very ripe. For 2016, I expect a vintage which is very balanced in terms of ripeness/body and acidity. Probably a vintage a lot of people will like.

E: Which wines are you especially proud about?

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MD: I have a big love for Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. These are my babies where I always try to get the best wine possible with my own signature which seeks for elegance rather than massive wines. Acidity is a major part and that is why I am very fond of cold years and 2016 will be one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E: How were yields?

MD: Overall good. Some better some not so good, but in overall I am satisfied.

E: Did you have to make any shifts in wine-making techniques due to weather conditions?

MD: Not really, but I am anyway somebody who does not have a recipe. So I always try things …

Thanks, Martin!  I can’t wait to try Weingut Diwald’s 2016 wines.