Many vineyards were affected by frost at the beginning of budburst heralding a smaller crop than usual. The growing season was one of the hottest and driest for many years, verging on drought conditions across the region. While crop volumes were down physiological ripeness and grape condition across the whole vintage was excellent.
A mild spring, a warm summer and an early autumn produced a perfect season for the early pick varieties with volumes well up on previous years. Rain and cooler weather in the late autumn increased the level of botrytis in the late pick varieties. It was a harvest of two halves.
There were ample opportunities for winemakers to work with various levels of noble botrytis in the grapes. These wines exhibit extra richness and concentration while still allowing a clear expression of the spectrum of lovely varietal flavours.
A mild spring was followed by a warm summer and a lingering, dry autumn. Occasional well-regulated rain kept the vines happy. This enabled physiological ripeness to be obtained in wonderfully healthy fruit before end of season humidity produced bunches and berries with perfect noble botrytis.
This was one of the cooler summers in the Waipara Valley although it was followed by a lingering dry autumn. By leaving the grapes on the vines until later in the season a beautiful spectrum of ripe varietal flavours with good natural acidity was achieved.
A modest, but reasonable crop level contributed to good fruit concentration and body in the wines.
The season was influenced by La Nina weather conditions, resulting in a very mild spring, a warm summer with high sunshine hours and a long, lingering autumn. In spite of being dry we had infrequent, but well-spaced showers keeping the vines very happy. It was one of the earliest seasons experienced in the region.
At picking the fruit was in beautiful condition and was physiologically ripe. A small portion developed beautifully raisined noble botrytis resulting in wines of extra concentration, depth and flavour.
Budburst was early because the spring weather in 2010 was some of the warmest ever recorded. The vines got off to a good start.
Late spring and early summer, however, were unseasonably cool and cloudy, sufficiently slowing the development of the grapes and causing concern. The skies then cleared and there were three to four months of unbroken sunshine. This enabled the fruit on the vine to attain excellent ripeness and levels of natural acidity.
The growing conditions of the 2009 season were amongst the best for both black and white grapes. An exceptionally early budburst was brought about by a very mild spring. Warm summer days with cool nights and a balmy, dry autumn produced healthy, perfectly ripened grapes with vibrant fruit flavours.
It was a splendid season in general and an exceptional one for pinot noir, producing wines of high quality. The warm summer days with cool nights and a lingering autumn crafted the perfect year for Riesling too.
Spring and early summer were warm and very dry but a brief torrential downpour in mid-February staved off a looming drought. The downpour set the dry streams gurgling merrily and totally replenished the ground water reserves The rest of the growing season was very good, particularly for pinot noir.
Later in the season, the fruit was exposed to some intermittent autumnal humidity. Many producers picked early to minimise the effect of this but those who waited until the weather cleared had some classic botrytised Riesling and aromatics to work with.
Waipara was buffeted by frequent strong blustery winds in late spring and early summer which coincided with the period when the grapes were in flower. It impaired pollination and thus quite markedly reduced the crop level. The rest of the summer, however, was excellent and the autumn was warm, dry and lingering.
Growers were thus able to harvest beautifully ripened grapes in optimum condition with good levels of natural acidity. The reduced Riesling crop gave these wines extra richness, concentration and depth.
The weather of the 2006 vintage was very even throughout the growing season, resulting in balanced wines from good, but not excessive crops. The growing season was longer than usual as mild spring weather resulted in early bud-burst, but was followed by cool nights which prevented excessively rapid growth. We had good accumulation of summer heat and a long, dry autumn.
The Pinot Noir harvest was, as usual, in April. The fruit was beautifully physiologically ripe when picked, but still had good levels of natural acid without excessive concentration of sugar.
Riesling was harvested in early May. This extra time on the vines meant the fruit was beautifully physiologically ripe when picked, but yet had good levels of natural acid.
Thanks to Pegasus Bay and the Donaldson family for sharing their vintage notes.