How will 2014 compare with 2013, “vintage of a generation”?
The 2014 vintage wrapped up at Hawke’s Bay’s Craggy Range, as the winery launched the 2013 wines last week, making 2014 the earliest on record by 10 days.
It’s been another warm and dry summer in New Zealand with little rain, leading to the declaration of drought in parts of the country – bad news for many farmers but grape growers are claiming its another cracking vintage.
Which asks the question, is 2014 going to be another exceptional year like 2013?
2013 was declared the “vintage of a generation” by Craggy Range’s wine director Steve Smith MW, so 2014 is going to have a hard act to follow.
But New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Officer Philip Gregan was optimistic early on: “All the indications suggest we are set for another memorable, high quality vintage which will be a great follow up to the stellar 2013 harvest,” he said in March.
And the latest release from NZ Winegrowers quotes Gisborne-based growers calling them “twin vintages” and 2014 a “legendary vintage”.
Smith’s claim of “vintage of a generation” conjured up memories of the Bordeaux 2009 vintage, which many declared vintage of a lifetime. Then came 2010 – another vintage of a lifetime. So, are we going to be hearing the same from Steve Smith next year, when he releases the 2014s?
After admitting that he was hoping no-one was going to ask that, he responded: ““I think 13 is better than 14.”
“I believe this  is a vintage of a generation because between December to the beginning of February, it was so hot and dry and that’s when the vine decides how thick the grapes are going to be – that’s really important for Merlot, which is a think skinned variety and we didn’t get that in ’14.”
Down in Marlborough, the country’s biggest wine region, there’s both optimism and caution.
“There a lot of fantastic Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and people are very enthusiastic about it plus there’s a lot of people raving about Sauvignon Blanc,” said Marcus Pickens, general manager of regional body Wine Marlborough.
Is it another vintage of a lifetime? “Too early to say,” said Pickens “There’s been some rain in the latter half of the vintage.”
What are your thoughts on the current harvest and growing season? I would love to hear from you.