Vidal vintage 2013

Friday, 05 September 2014

Great vintages are remembered, discussed and tasted for decades. Poor vintages are quickly forgotten, rarely discussed with excitement and generally slip out of the cellars for early drinking.

2013 will be remembered as one of the greatest vintages of all time, particularly in Hawkes Bay. The wines will provide years and in some cases decades of enjoyment and drinking pleasure and it is expected they will receive critical acclaim, helping to forge Hawkes Bay’s place in the world of fine wine.

Memorable seasons produce memorable wines. Anyone who experienced the summer of 2013 will long remember it for its warm settled conditions. Seasons like this when combined with great vineyard sites, viticultural expertise and an understanding of the elements of great wine, creates a potential to produce something special.

Vineyard site and the seasonal conditions have the most significant impact on our wines at Vidal Estate, leaving an indelible imprint, ultimately determining the quality of the final wine. Here are a few simple facts that have contributed to the quality of our 2013 wines:

Low rainfall leading to:

  • Low disease pressure and pristine conditioned fruit at the time of harvest
  • Low vegetative growth resulting in open, low vigour canopies allowing light and air flow into the fruiting zone contributing to several quality parameters

Above average heat accumulation (Growing Degree Days) leading to:

  • Flavour ripeness and concentration
  • Phenolic ripeness

Settled and warm flowering period through to veraison and beyond harvest leading to:

  • Uniformed flowering and good berry set
  • Even veraison
  • Minimal ripeness variation within blocks at harvest
  • Physiological ripeness
  • Disease free fruit

Periods of cooler conditions through the growing season. This may sound strange but actually in hot drought years such periods make significant quality contributions:

  • It slows down the rate of ripening reducing the risk of over ripeness and subsequent loss of fragrance and definition in the final wines
  • Preserves characters of delicacy and elegance in the final wines
  • Preserves natural acidity in the grapes – a key parameter for making, balanced, elegantly styled wines
  • Extending the growing season allowing slow accumulation of flavours and phenolic ripeness
  • Slowing down the accumulation of sugar, leading to lower alcohol wines - again more balanced and ultimately more drinkable.

There is no question that wines from the 2013 vintage will be some of the greatest we have ever released. A bold claim you may say, particularly given the infancy of these wines, but the potential can clearly be seen. A truly memorable summer, one of driest and warmest on record, was flanked by cooler spring and autumn seasons with the latter leading to slow gradual ripening, accumulation of flavour and importantly the preservation of natural acidity giving the wines freshness, definition, balance and elegance – all characters we aspire to in our wines. These wines will reflect their place, the season and our attention to detail in the vineyard and winery.

The NZ wine industry is still young but our vines are aging, our knowledge is growing and the quest for quality is stronger than ever. We are entering a new phase of knowledge, experience and reputation, the results of which are exciting particularly when combined with great vintages such as this. At the end of the day the proof will be in the glass, but I would urge you to invest in 2013 and enjoy a taste of winemaking history.

Kind regards, Winemaker Hugh Crichton