Vintage Report 2017
a year that tested our patience…
Churton vineyard’s resilience to weather events was affirmed during the 2017 vintage. It was an interesting vintage – which in winemaker’s parlance meant it was a challenging vintage.
Following a dry and relatively mild winter bud break commenced in early October. Spring was rather wet and changeable but it was also free from harmful frosts. The growing season began cool and, combined with our elevation, delayed vineyard activities. Flowering took place a little later than in the valleys and fell into a warm settled period with success across all varieties. It started in Pinot Noir with the moon in Aquarius and followed ten days later in Sauvignon Blanc as the moon started its ascending phase moving into Gemini. Both constellations being flower (air), this was highly beneficial!
The New Year brought more unsettled weather conditions and, aside from a few days in February, summer never truly arrived. The moderate temperatures and often cloudy days continued and the season really didn’t have a chance to catch up. Aside from a three day period of rain in March, the weather was dry until early April when we caught the rather nasty tail end of two ex-tropical cyclones. They fell just 10 days apart with Easter’s full-moon sat right in the middle. We ended up picking in and around these events… and the Indian summer arrived as we completed harvest (bugger!).
With a harvest season punctuated by rain events, late ripening fruit kept us on our toes. It was impossible to avoid botrytis completely but ours was significantly mitigated by Churton vineyard’s good health. With our usual rigorous vineyard selection we were very pleased with the quality of fruit and its flavour development. Unfortunately, our Viognier did not weather the storm and we chose to leave it on the vine – to the delight of the wild pigs that came to the vineyard.
Our first Pinot Noir pick was 30th March, 8 days later than 2016. Maturity was good with the fruit clean, well balanced and averaging 37hl/ha. The Sauvignon Blanc harvest was a little trickier; we started picking on 9th April but then paused until after Easter to harvest the balance by the 24th April. Average yield was 56hl/ha whilst Best End Sauvignon Blanc was considerably lower at 33hl/ha. Harvest concluded on an absolute high with a gloriously sunny day of picking Petit Manseng. This late ripening variety was harvested on 5th May at 33º brix with exceptional intensity and balance. The clean fully raisined fruit will bring a change of style to our Petit Manseng for 2017, the first true vin passerillé we’ve made.