The 2021 vintage was the earliest on record. It was an amazing spring and summer at Bicheno with periodic good rain. Last year we cut 32 bales of hay. This year 100, and we could have done a second cut.
Bud burst was early and the flowering went well. The bunches were small and so were the berries. We estimated the crop to be below average, but in the wash up it was normal.
What caught us out was how quickly it ripened.
The sugars came up very quickly, probably because the canopy was excellent.
We started picking Pinot on the 4th of April, where we would normally start at the end of April or early May.
Interestingly even with the high sugars the pH was very low. After destemming, and with the skin contact from the cold soak, the acids dropped off to an acceptable level. With the ripeness and the small berries the color and the fruit flavors were deep and very intense. The weather was quite cool so the natural yeast didn’t start until the end of the month so there was extended skin contact. We pressed before dryness as we were wary of over extraction.
After settling it was into barrel. This year, because of the intense fruit weight, we used more new French oak, with 4 different coopers.
The chardonnay was picked in mid April. It was a bit leaner than usual, but with a bit more focus. More the Puligny than Meursault.
All in all an interesting year and something to look forward to.
Notes compiled by Brian Franklin.
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