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Marlborough 2008 Vintage Update

For Immediate Release
28 January 2008

Marlborough 2008 Vintage Update: Warm Flowering Impoves Vintage Prospects

• Warm conditions during flowering improve Marlborough’s yield predictions
• Vines in excellent condition as veraison approaches

Marlborough winegrowers are lauding the higher than average temperatures during December and January for helping to increase predicted yields for this year’s vintage.

There were fears the extreme cold temperatures during flowering in December 2006 would result in lower yields in the upcoming 2008 vintage. But Dr Mike Trought from HortResearch says the perfect conditions in recent months have helped alleviate some of those fears.

“December 2006 was the coldest on record and as a consequence it reduced bunch numbers on vines throughout the province. We believed that would impact on the yield for this coming season. But we had a particularly warm flowering period from mid December through until mid January and the growing degree days are some of the warmest since we began records in 1987. Effectively what that has done is bring the yield estimate from our model, back up to average.”

The higher than average temperatures experienced throughout Marlborough have also helped counter some of the damage experienced during a frost in October, according to Siobhan Harnett, viticulturist for Cloudy Bay.

“Our Chardonnay crops were tickled up a bit by that frost, but the better than average flowering has compensated for that.”

Siobhan says the fruit throughout the Wairau Valley is looking clean and healthy and the vines have flourished from rain experienced during December and mid January.
Dave Macdonald from Bladen Wines agrees saying the vines have had a “good lift”.

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“The rain certainly eased some potential stress before Christmas and the January rain was perfect timing before veraison kicks in. The vines are looking really healthy and clean.”

The region’s flagship variety Sauvignon Blanc is looking like producing an average yield, with the fruit set experiencing no major weather problems. Allan Croker from Vavasour Wines in the Awatere Valley says in their case Sauvignon looks slightly above average, similar to the 2006 levels while Siobhan Harnett describes the Sauvignon crop as being “very sensible.”

“We have quite strident quality parameters, aiming for only 10 tonnes per hectare. We seem to have a lot of vineyards with nine or nine and a half tonnes a hectare out there, so that’s perfect.”

Wine Marlborough Chair Blair Gibbs says across the board Marlborough’s crops are looking very good.

“The fruit is fantastic, it’s very clean and the weather has been wonderful. The timing of the rain we have had has been impeccable, arriving at just the right moment. And the indications from the climate experts are that we will have a settled and warm February. So if these conditions continue, we will be a looking at a very good vintage.”

Long, dry days followed by the cooler nights experienced in Marlborough are a major component in developing the region’s iconic fruit flavours. Those flavours will be enhanced by the average cropping yields.

Meanwhile Wine Marlborough is busy preparing for the 25th Marlborough Wine Festival. The silver anniversary of the country’s largest and longest running wine festival is due to take place on February 9 at Pernod Ricard’s Brancott Estate. It will be the largest ever event, with 57 wineries taking part and more than 8,000 people from all over the world expected to attend.

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