In spring 2017 bunch numbers were down 15% on long term average so everything was pointing to moderate yields at harvest. However, perfect weather conditions in December over the flowering period led to excellent fruit set and very high potential bunch weights. The Mount Riley team sprang into action to reduce yields across all varietals to ensure we were able ripen fruit and produce quality wines.
A very warm summer (January was the hottest on record) had us believing we were on track for one of the earliest harvests we’ve ever had. Unfortunately we also had the wettest late January and February on record with 50% of our annual rainfall falling in these months. Another 85mm of rain right at the beginning of harvest in early March really set things up for a super challenging vintage.
Fortunately, because of the mid-summer heat, we had physiological and flavour ripeness at low sugar levels and fruit was harvested relatively early. Moderate yields, along with open canopies were also a lifesaver to allow plenty of sunlight penetration onto the fruit zone and ameliorate disease pressure. Whilst it wasn’t the earliest start to vintage we’ve ever had, it was certainly the earliest finish with 90% of our fruit coming off before the end of March which is unheard of for us.
Aromatic whites again look excellent this year with our Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer looking particularly smart. Pinot Noir is delicate and aromatic and our Estate Chardonnay will be on par with the 2017.
Another vintage done, again with some unique challenges – I’m already looking forward to vintage 2019!
Enjoy & cheers, Matt
Awards & Accolades Update
The 2018 show season is just getting underway. We're excited to present our new vintage wines and will keep you posted with our results.
In the meantime, the 2017 show season was great. Our Riesling was a top performer winning a trophy at the Air NZ Wine Awards. Gold medals in NZ shows were also awarded to our Estate Range Pinot Gris, Pinot Rose and Pinot Noir, our Limited Release Pinot Noir and our 17 Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Many other wines in the estate range also picked up silver medals.
Our wines also scored well with our Limited Release Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir receiving 90 points from the Wine Advocate, our 17 Valley Sauvignon Blanc receiving 91 points in the Wine Advocate and 17 Valley Chardonnay receiving 95 points from Bob Campbell MW.
Click on the relevant wine in the “our wines” section of our website then expand the “awards” option for full details of the results for each of our current vintage wines.
The 2018 crew
In the winery we welcomed Melanie Blackburn to our team this year as our Export Logistics Co-ordinator. Tanya left to put her PhD to good use at the Marlborough Research Centre. In the vineyards we've welcomed two ladies to our previously male dominant crew with Charmaine and Rachael both joining as machinery operators. A belated welcome also to Danielle Taylor, who replaced Vicki as our Sales Administrator in the Auckland office. Vicki left the city to enjoy a more leisurely pace of life on the beach at Whitianga and will be missed by all.
Top NZ Chardonnays
In the September issue of NZ's Cuisine Magazine, a leading NZ wine and food magazine, both our Chardonnays featured. Mount Riley Estate Chardonnay was awarded 4 stars and a best buy and 17 Valley Chardonnay was in the Top 10 best wines and picked up 4 1/2 stars. Chardonnay is always a family favourite here at Mount Riley so the pressure's always on Matt to make sure we always have something solid for Friday drinks!