2013 Vintage Report

GROWING SEASON AND HARVEST

Following an extremely warm growing season in 2012, the 2013 vintage can be considered more typical for the Niagara Peninsula. The vintage began with average seasonal temperatures and rainfall for the entirety of the spring, followed by a greater than normal diurnal range, with slightly above average daytime highs and slightly below average overnight lows in the summer months. June and July yielded high levels of rainfall and ample soil moisture. Our dense, clay-loam tills retained this moisture, benefitting the vines heading into August and September when warmer and significantly drier weather was welcomed, providing excellent conditions for ripening.

The season’s growing conditions were reminiscent to that of 2009 and 2011, yielding bright, highly aromatic wines that are not wanting for weight or complexity. The pruning and training of the vines occurred with no thought of winter damage as 2012-13 continued a string of mild winters. Bud break occurred during the second week of May, and was followed by generally warm but temperate weather in June and July which saw only occasional heat spikes breaking the 30°C mark. The summer was punctuated by isolated periods of warm, humid, and stormy conditions, which carried with them above average rainfall levels and a slight increase in disease pressure. This generally moderate weather allowed for steady vegetative development across all cultivars.

With August and September bringing below average rainfall and warm, sunny days, the vines were well positioned to optimally ripen their fruit. Veraison occurred during the second and third weeks of August. The increased vigour experienced earlier in the summer was managed through careful canopy management. In particular, judicious leaf thinning by hand was employed to facilitate better air movement, expose the grapes to sunlight and minimize disease pressure. At the end of August, the crop was modestly thinned in order to facilitate ripening for the vines. Following these dry months was an extremely wet October, with over double the monthly average of rainfall.

Harvest began in mid-September, but became hurried due to a very rainy stretch during the first half of October. Chardonnay grapes for our sparkling wines were harvested during the first week of September. The still wine harvest commenced with Pinot Noir between September 15th and October 1st. During the intermittent dry spells of the first two weeks of October, we were able to harvest Chardonnay and Riesling, more or less concurrently. As the skies remained more consistently clear, Cabernet Franc was picked in the window from October 9th to the 21st. The vintage closed with a chilly November – which preserved the Riesling that remained on the vine – followed by sudden deep freezes in mid-December.

These conditions delivered clean, rapidly frozen fruit for our Riesling ‘Indian Summer’ and Riesling Icewine, with harvest commencing on December 11th and completed by the 19th. Overall, the 2013 vintage has produced wines that are exceptionally aromatic, and in this way comparable to 2009 and 2011, especially for Riesling and Pinot Noir. While these varieties will be appreciated for their freshness and delicacy in the short to medium term, our hunch is that the Rieslings in particular will develop exceptionally well over the longer term. While the Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs may be more delicate than the heftier 2012s, they remain ripe and polished wines that will not disappoint.

RIESLING

Our 2013 Rieslings are expressively aromatic and highly integrated. Whether dry or medium-dry, they show notes of bright citrus, stone fruit and spice, along with distinctly mineral textures. The wines are medium in body, with outstanding balance and intensity upon release, making them approachable in their youth. The naturally vibrant acids and concentration of fruit arising from our terroir ensure that these wines will gain in depth and complexity with age. Expect the top bottlings to develop for upwards of a decade. In terms of the late harvest wines, the cool late autumn and early deep freeze prevented excessive desiccation and allowed for a high level of extract in the finished wines. Succulent but highly structured, they will reward a minimum of 15 years of ageing potential.

Bud break: May 19-23                                     Yield: 3.5 tonnes/acre (61 hl/ha)
Flowering: June 24-29                                   °Brix: 19
Veraison: Aug. 25-30                                       pH: 3.0
Harvest: Oct. 1-11                                              T.A.: 3.5 g/L

CHARDONNAY

Chardonnay from 2013 shows a complex range of aromatics true to their cool climate origin, with notes of fresh apricot, citrus and melon. The slow ripening of this vintage provided these wines with a generous palate, affirming acidity and remarkable integration. At the entry level, the wines are very expressive in their youth, while the Estate wines have the depth and concentration to develop further complexity over the next 6 to 8 years. Finally, the Chardonnay base wine for our Traditional Method Blanc de Blanc promises a fresh, medium-bodied sparkling wine that will support ageing on the lees for at least three years.

Bud break: May 15-19                                     Yield: 3.5 tonnes/acre (61 hl/ha)
Flowering: June 18-23                                   °Brix: 21
Veraison: Aug. 20-24                                      pH: 3.4
Harvest: Sept. 30–Oct. 11                               T.A.: 8.3 g/L

PINOT NOIR

Our Pinot Noirs are made from vineyards planted to Dijon clones 115, 667, and 777 that are now entering their prime production years. The 2013 wines, while lighter in colour, pack fragrant aromas of mixed red berries, spice and earth tones. On the palate, they possess firm yet silky tannins, elegant yet persistent fruit and outstanding integration throughout. Due to strong overall demand and low yields, we were unable to produce our top-tier Pinot Noir Estate, which is to the benefit of our entry level Pinot Noir Niagara Escarpment and mid-tier Pinot Noir ‘Dolomite’. Very approachable in their youth, these wines are particularly impressive for their overall harmony and will develop for a minimum of 6 to 8 years.

Bud break: May 19-24                                     Yield: 2.9 tonnes/acre (50 hl/ha)
Flowering: June 23-28                                   °Brix: 21.6
Veraison: Aug. 23-27                                        pH: 3.4
Harvest: Sept. 15-Oct. 1                                   T.A.: 8.1 g/L

CABERNET FRANC

The Cabernet Franc wines from 2013 are deep in colour and hold generous fruit due to excellent late season ripening conditions. They are very aromatic and exhibit dark berry, cassis and cacao notes with integrated tones of herbs and spice. On the palate, they display a smooth round texture, fine tannins and vivid berry fruit. The structure of these wines allowed for them to soften in barrel for 18 months, while still maintaining their polish and shine. We continued our exploration of the traditional appassimento method, naturally air-drying whole clusters of grapes to produce our proprietary Cabernet Franc ‘La Penna’. This wine will spend 36 months in barrel and promises an extra dimension of aromatic complexity and richness on the palate.

Bud break: May 19-23                                     Yield: 3.9 tonnes/acre (68 hl/ha)
Flowering: June 25-29                                   °Brix: 21.5
Veraison: Aug. 27-Sept. 1                                pH: 3.3
Harvest: Oct. 9-21                                             T.A.: 6 g/L