+ 2011

Central Otago, at least early on, escaped the ravages of the big wet summer that affected most of the rest of New Zealand. In fact, December was one of the driest for a long time, with a welcome string of 30+ degree days throughout December until mid-January. There was also less wind than usual, and these conditions resulted in an ideal, quick flowering with strong berry set (except for those sites – mainly high altitude – adversely affected by the freakish snow/frost event in early November). It wasn’t until mid January that Central gained its first real rain (around 25mm), which was followed by more two weeks later. It wasn’t altogether unwelcome, especially leading into veraison. Conditions were looking ideal – a great summer with warm conditions, good fruit set, plus disease-free, healthy and open canopies and potentially a very early harvest. But on the 23rd of February, Central Otago up to 75mm fell over 24hours, which in some vineyards caused those berries with enough cell elasticity to balloon, or split those berries incapable of stretching. Suddenly average-sized bunches became oversized bunches. All was not lost – the level of splitting was negligible at best – but it did open the door for some late season botrytis pressure, which appeared after four more (smaller) rain events leading up to the middle of March. The few weeks leading up to and throughout the harvest the harvest were warm and dry (April was the driest on record): an ideal finish to a vintage that favours the best sites and with good management.