Hawke's Bay Vintage 2016
Climate Overview: A very late beginning to the season was followed by a very warm summer and early autumn period. Unusually consistent warm January and February temperatures led to record Grower Degree Days in that period.
Rainfall: Average to below average during the ripening phase. Warm average night-time temperatures.
Grower Degree Days: 1420
Vintage strengths: Another excellent all-round vintage.
A very cool, late spring meant a later than average season. In fact, up until mid-January we were record late.
Between the early January period until the first day of harvest, the 16th March, we experienced unusually consistent warm days. In fact, in that approximate 9 week period, (63 days), a total of 50 days of that time the maximum daytime temperature were 25 degrees celsius or over. That is very rare for Hawkes Bay. 2016 ended up having Grower Degree Days rivalling the very warm 2014 and 2009 harvest.
Early on flowering was solid, frosts were not prevalent or at least well mitigated. The season, however, seemed unusually slow and late. Generally we need to get through the last half of March to make for a great season in Hawkes Bay. This time seems to be consistently the most unsettled period each year. If the season lingers on to late April, generally the wines are very strong. The warm days were also combined with warm night-time temperatures and high humidity, particularly around the 2nd half of March. It was definitely a season to be close and vigilant to your vineyards.
The 2016 wines are delicious. The Chardonnays are as good as anything back to 2010. The early ripening varieties, Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo are as good as we have ever made. The Gimblett reds are juicy and succulent. Dark fruited with plenty of colour. The wines have a delicious immediate drinkability. They are structured but soft and rich and with plenty of body.
Hawke's Bay Vintage 2015
Climate Overview: A typical spring with moderate frost risk and a good fruit-set in the Gimblett Gravels. Average to poor fruit-set in the cooler, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir sites. A dry summer with an unsettled autumn.
Rainfall: Dry January/February (50 mm total). March and April were somewhat unsettled with 3 events of around 50mm during this harvest period. All three of these events were followed by very cool, dry weather and this minimised any negative effects of the rain.
Grower Degree Days: 1400 (very similar to 2013).
Vintage strengths: Excellent all-round vintage with no stand out weaknesses. Smaller yields in the cooler sites led to excellent quality with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Quality was consistently strong across all varieties in the Gimblett Gravels.
2015 was a very different vintage to previous years in Hawkes Bay. A dry early summer followed by typically good temperatures through to the New Year and then a very dry January and February with heat summation running very similar to the classic 2013 season.
Harvest began with Chardonnay on the 10th March. Most of our Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards were then harvested in the week following. Accurate tracking of Tropical Cyclone Pam suggested we could potentially receive the remnants of this large storm around the 16th to 18th March. In the end we only felt the very edge of this system in Hawkes Bay. Some very cool southerly winds dried the vineyards out brilliantly immediately after the rain.
The next 3 weeks saw essentially no rain and continued ripening for our red varieties. Another short bout of rain around the 10th April meant some picking prior to that event and then, once again, very cool dry weather followed right up until the end of harvest on the 24th April. The fruit benefited greatly from another 2 weeks on the vine.
Hawke's Bay Vintage 2014
Climate Overview: Wet but fruitful spring. Warm, dry summer.
Rainfall: 40ml rain/month fell over the ripening season of January/February/March (below average rainfall) Significant rain from 7th April punctuates Harvest
Grower Degree Days: Approx. 1500 (A very warm season)
Vintage strengths: Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir
2014 is an extremely strong vintage, particularly for Syrah. Harvest started early on the 22nd of February, with the last fruit picked on Saturday the 12th of April. These are record early picking dates for Trinity Hill.
Hawke's Bay encountered very mild spring and summer conditions leading into the ripening period. Consistently warm (but not extreme) day and night temperatures lead to an advanced season from budburst onwards. Total Growing Degree Days were at record highs and are well ahead of the very warm 2009 and 2013 seasons. The end of the season remained dry and warm until the 5th of April with significant rainfall occurring in the 10 days following.
The main ripening period for 2014 was similar to 2013 in that it was dry but it had the positive effects of small rain incidences at appropriate times to refresh the vines. The beginning of the season was frost free and mild with good soil moisture levels. Good conditions at flowering meant excellent bunch weights and numbers resulting in vineyards delivering good volumes of excellent fruit.
Hawke's Bay Vintage 2013
Climate Overview: Extremely dry with a moderately warm Summer
Rainfall: Only 65 mm total rain over the ripening period of January/February/March (significantly below average rainfall). A volume of rain mid to late April punctuates the harvest.
Grower Degree Days: Approx. 1420 (Average warmth)
Vintage strengths: Chardonnay, Syrah and the Cabernet family
2013 harvest is one of the top vintages ever experienced at Trinity Hill. Chardonnay and Syrah were strong along with Merlot, the Cabernet family and Pinot Noir. It is difficult to think of a weak batch in the cellar from any variety in 2013.
NZ as a whole experienced a very dry summer with many areas reporting higher than average temperatures. For Hawkes Bay, it was more a case of a typical season in terms of summer temperatures, though it certainly was a very, very dry growing period. Grower Degree Days suggest 2013 was cooler than both the 2009 and 2011 seasons.
A dry and moderate season like 2013 set us up perfectly to exploit sub-regional differences and our diverse varietal mix. There were 146 individual harvest intakes from 14 vineyards and 18 grape varieties. Yields were generally slightly above projections from our own vineyards.
Harvest began on 5th March and ended on 19th April and was largely a smooth affair in both vineyard and winery with the 45 day total picking period being fairly typical of our vintage. A dry season does allow for more thoughtful harvest decisions versus the necessity of some earlier seasons.
Reports kindly supplied by Trinity Hill - written by Warren Gibson.