It was a slow and late start to the season, with temperatures staying below average through March and April, but the upside that we avoided damaging late spring frosts. By the time bud burst happened in May our vineyard was 3 weeks behind our traditional viticulture calendar.
June was hot, which carried into July, so we experienced a degree of progress and catch-up with our vines. Flowering and fruit set in early July were good, which was demonstrated by the decent yields we saw through much of the vineyard.
However, a poor August – grey, and cooler than average with some heavy rain – left us with small, green berries with little development over the heart of our summer.
With the arrival of September we were concerned about veraison (ripening of the fruit) and the amount of time available for the vines to ripen sufficiently. Remarkably, veraison started a couple of days earlier than 2020, on 6th September on the Pinot Noir, but the challenge of ripening and sugar levels remained. The harvest was rescued by exceptional temperatures through September and into October – a very welcome ‘Indian summer’.
The challenge of cooler temperatures and regular bursts of heavy rain, led to heightened risk of disease, from Downy Mildew in particular. This demanded a much more rigorous spray programme immediately following heavy rain, to control outbreaks, which we managed relatively successfully. The other consequence of the warm end of season, which rescued the vintage, is that the risk of Botrytis was much higher. We saw some, perhaps a little more than normal, and so we had to be alert when picking. We prepared the vineyard to deal with these issues by hand leaf pulling in September, which had the double effect of exposing the fruit to the sunshine more directly, and allowing air movement through the vines, to help dry the fruit from morning dew.
The arrival of harvest began on the 18th October running through to the 30th of the month, with just over 100 tonnes of fruit picked. This vintage will use fruit from our young vines that we planted in 2018, a welcome relief to see the investment start to bear fruit.
The key profile of our fruit from this year is lower sugar levels and higher acidity levels than usual. This may mean that our Brut and Blanc de Blanc wines will need slightly longer on the lees for the acidity to soften.