Vintage 2013 will go down in history as one of GIMBLETT GRAVELS’ greatest ever years, that is for certain. Talk to anyone you know in Hawke’s Bay, and they will tell you it was “the summer of your childhood”.
After a damp 2012 winter there was a fall off of rainfall into the spring. Early spring temperatures were average and so bud break started at the normal time in mid to late September. The weather warmed nicely into October although there were several frost events and many occasions that wind machines and helicopters were deployed.
From mid November, temperatures progressively became warmer and by late December they were approaching the mid thirties in the vineyards on a day to day basis. This set up a very good flowering and fruit set. From December 21st till 2nd January there was a very warm period with warm days and unusually warm nights with temperatures hardly ever dipping below 18 degrees.
Between the 9th and 15th of January there was a spell of real heat with vineyard temperatures typically peaking in the mid thirties during the day and on two days approaching 40 degrees. This was followed by a remarkable run of anticyclonic weather patterns with fine calm days, cool nights and little wind and rainfall.
Lasting from 20th January till the 4th of April, this stretch of 70 days of fine weather coincided with the veraison right through to maturity in most varieties. It would be hard to imagine a better spell of weather in which to ripen grapes and in particular Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.
The 4th till the 7th of April were cooler but then more fine days followed till the 16th of April to complete the ripening of the Cabernet and Syrah. Most blocks of these later ripening varieties were harvested before rain arrived on the 16th of April. Compared to the long term average of 350 mm, September to April rainfall was just 130 mm.
One surprising aspect of the vintage was that the Brix levels of the fruit at maturity were lower than would normally be expected. As a result, most wines will be typically under 14% alcohol yet still show superbly ripe aromas and tannins.
Merlot – This variety will vie as the most successful variety of the vintage. There is a fantastic aromatic purity in the wines without the sometimes jammy characters that can mark this variety if hung out too long. The tannins are very polished.
Syrah – the aromas appear as being very floral and pure. Again, the tannins are superb, and the finish is elegant without any sense of heaviness or overipeness.
Cabernets Franc & Sauvignon – here we have some simply incredible wines. Cabernet Franc that is pure violets and sweet black fruits, lush and rich, and Cabernet Sauvignon that sings with intensity and aromatic complexity, along with fine and prestigious tannins. Blended with the amazing Merlot’s these will make some truly memorable wines that should cellar well for decades.
In summary, 2013 vintage GIMBLETT GRAVELS reds will be talked about for decades. This is a vintage for the cellar, for the desert island, and for all our pleasure!