Spring Release 20002000
The continuing La Nina allied with a positive phase of the Southern Oscillation provided moist growing conditions and less wind than usual throughout most of the 1999/2000 growing season. The result was the most vigorous growth we have seen since we planted vines in 1979. By March, however, conditions had dried out sufficiently for most vines to start experiencing a moisture deficit appropriate for the production of quality fruit at harvest. Intermittent light falls of rain through the harvest period were not enough to cause regrowth in the vines or threaten dilution in the wines, but under these conditions disease - particularly botrytis - remained a significant threat. Growing and vintage conditions were very similar to those of the excellent 1991 vintage, except that 2000 was a little warmer. Frost severely affected crop levels in two of our Craighall Pinot noir blocks and in our Craighall Chardonnay, so that both wines will be in relatively limited supply when released in 2001.
- Chardonnay Amaranth 1999
The colour of this wine is clear light gold. It has the aromas of fresh-cut straw, citrus, mineral and even crême bruleé, along with the mealy notes that arose from stirring the yeast lees while the wine was in the barrel (batonnage). As would be expected from the warmth of the year, and from the dry autumn and low crop levels (17hL/ha - less than 1t/A), it has an intense palate with powerful peach/citrus and mineral flavours, and added complexity from the batonnage and full barrel ferment (27% new oak). The low yields and concentrated palate have delivered a taut structure from fruit-derived phenolics which resemble those of a young Chablis which characteristically needs time to open out and become more accessible. Its complexity and style place it closer to its French rather than New Zealand counterparts, and consequently the wine offers considerable interest and reward to those who are prepared to wait and follow its evolution. This wine has been designated ‘Amaranth®'.
N.B. The Amaranth® designation is not intended as a quality mark. Rather, it means ‘if you are interested in cellaring wines, try this...' Expect to see it on wines which are a little different from our usual style and which we hope/expect will display an interesting development over the next few years. The name is derived from the unfading flower of Greek myth.
- Pinot Noir Amaranth 1999
Progressively smaller changes in our general approach to making these wines have been necessary over recent years as we have adopted or adapted tradition according to the particularities of the Martinborough climate and soil. Fine-tuning this general approach to extract the maximum in concentration and flavour according to the fruit we have been given in each year seems to have resulted in the wines now expressing more of the individuality of each vintage.
1999 was a very low cropping year for us (less than 1t/A or 17 hL/ha), and it has produced a wine with very dense colour and concentrated fruit. The nose shows violets, red and black berries with plums, walnuts and even hints of crème caramel derived from the barrel maturation. The level of tannins in this wine does not appear quite as high as in the 96 and 98 wines, but this could be because of the very ripe characters of the tannins and the fruit concentration. We have designated this an ‘Amaranth®' wine on account of its concentration and finesse, the complexity and spread of flavours - from raspberry through blackberries to plums - and for its elegant expression. I am looking forward to following the development of this wine over a number of years.
N.B. When this wine is young, avoid drinking cool so that the youthful tannins do not dominate the fruit (try at ca. 18-20ºC).
- Late Harvest Craighall Riesling 2000
The fruit for this wine was held on the vine to late in the season, finally being picked on May 3rd at approximately 24 brix with the majority of bunches having at least some botrytis infection. The fermentation left approximately 60g/L residual sugar and a wine which is light lemon in colour with a nose showing sweet citrus blossom, honeysuckle and zest of limes. The palate is similar to a rather rich German spatlese in style with an elegant concentrated palate and flavours of lime and citrus zest, slatey minerals and touches of spice. It is yet to develop the secondary botrytis characters which do come with time. This is an excellent refreshing aperitif for a summer afternoon or before a fine meal - very drinkable now but bottle development also seems assured. Longer-term cellaring may give rise to wine crystals (see General Notes).
- Sauvignon Blanc 2000
The colour of the wine is a greenish lemon, and it has a nose which is quite aromatic, showing sweet tropical fruits, white-fleshed stonefruit, plus hints of white pepper and fresh-cut hay. The palate is viscous, almost weighty, with up-front flavours of green apples and stonefruit, maybe even kiwifruit, and underlying hints of the ripe tropical fruit seen on the bouquet, and all tempered by a zesty rather than overt acidity. It is a refined Sauvignon which may be drunk now or cellared: no hurry.
Longer-term cellaring may give rise to wine crystals (see General Notes).
- Martinborough Botrytis Berry Selection Chardonnay
The fruit for this wine was completely botrytised, picked at an average of 38.5 brix and fermented into a wine equivalent to a German trockenbeerenauslese with approx. 200g/L residual sugar. The wine is a rich, lighter gold and the nose has honeyed aromas of super-ripe stonefruit and fresh hay. The palate is big, rich and viscous. Flavours of sherbet, bush honey, orange zest and ripe yellow peaches fill the mouth, leaving an aftertaste of caramel and spices and an impression of total sumptuousness. I hesitate to make a definitive comment about length of cellaring: it is excellent drinking now, and I expect it to age well, but try it over the next two years and evaluate again.
- 2012 Autumn Spring
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- 1999 Autumn Spring
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- 1995 Autumn Spring