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2014 Gisborne Vintage Report

Last year was “the vintage of a lifetime” for Gisborne wines. This vintage is shaping up to be equally exceptional.

Gisborne is renowned for sunny weather and Chardonnay, and the two have combined again this year to produce a vintage that has local grape growers and winemakers marveling at its quality. The region’s burgeoning reputation for other white varietals, particularly Viognier and Albariño, will be further cemented with 2014’s superlative harvest.

Warm temperatures in spring ensured excellent flowering, while the cool nights and warm days towards the end of January enhanced véraison (onset of ripening).

“Tick off two in a row for sunny Gisborne,” says Spade Oak’s Steve Voysey. “An incredible Gisborne summer has produced great flavours and a fantastic portfolio of wines that have been a delight to make. You know it’s a legendary vintage when every tank in the place is chocca. I’m just loving what I’m seeing being caressed into wine. The ferment bench is a delight to taste through.”

Matt Fox, 2013’s Young Viticulturist of the Year, says the harvest has been early, with a lot of fruit ripening at the same time. “Harvest was 10-­12 days early due to the fantastic Gisborne weather. This vintage has produced fruit as good as last year, no doubt. We’ve just had to work a lot harder this year to overcome some challenging early season conditions.”

“We’ve never worked so hard to produce such beautiful fruit,” agrees Doug Bell, supplier to Coopers Creek and Chairman of Gisborne Wine Growers. “Despite the best efforts of weather forecasters, we ended up with a hot and dry season, over-­ filled with sunshine and ripeness. The twin vintages of 2013 and 2014 are stunning.”

Dave Hart of Stonebridge Wines is equally delighted. “This vintage has resulted in exceptionally clean fruit with beautiful flavours. The Chardonnay and Viognier in particular are showing a nice balance of sugars and acidity.”

Biodynamic pioneer James Millton celebrates his 30th vintage this year. Having spent three decades making some of the country’s most acclaimed wines, he speaks with authority when he declares: “2014 is the year of the aromatics. If aromatics have a king, then let it be Viognier. I have never tasted Viognier this good.”

The winemakers are unanimous in their belief that the 2014 Chardonnay and Viognier are amongst the best the region has ever produced. Steve Voysey also suggests wine lovers take advantage of the uniformly excellent vintage to experiment with some of the more unusual wines being made in Gisborne.

“The Gisborne mainstays fire again. But the season’s been so long and balanced, surprise yourself with something else such as Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Malbec. There’s a plethora of pleasant discoveries and memorable drinking in this vintage.”

The terroirs of Gisborne
Gisborne is one of New Zealand's largest grape growing regions. Sheltered by hills and mountain ranges to the North and North West, Gisborne’s warm dry climate is moderated by the nearby ocean, with the cooling afternoon sea breezes, typical of many of the world’s great wine growing regions. These breezes preserve natural acidity and tropical fruit flavours. Fine clay and silt loam soils create full-­flavoured aromatic wines with a marine note, thanks to the nearby ocean. Kind spring rainfalls and a long dry summer, combined with both alluvial and heavier clay soils, allow dry farming of a wide range of grape varieties.


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