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Hawke’s Bay 2013 vintage the ‘stuff of legends’

Winemakers in New Zealand's Hawke's Bay say the 2013 harvest is set to produce a historic vintage.

The wine grape harvest in Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand‘s north island, may have only just been completed, but several winemakers are already lauding 2013 as perhaps the best vintage they’ve seen.

There is particular excitement around sub-region Gimblett Gravels. Tony Bish, chairman of the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association and chief winemaker at Sacred Hill, described 2013 as the ‘best in living memory… the stuff legends are made of’.

He said the ‘quality of the fruit is just terrific, the best in my 32 years, a great Merlot year’. The Merlot is so good that Scared Hill may, for the first time, release a straight varietal, he said, adding that 2012 was actually the worst year he’d experienced.

Dermot McCollum, who took over Stonecroft Winery in 2010, described 2013 as offering ‘perfect conditions all the way through’, following ‘two nasty vintages’.

Chief winemaker at Craggy Range, Matt Stafford, said the perfect weather meant he only found ten berries affected by botrytis, which is ‘unheard of’. He declared 2013 ‘the best ever for Merlot’, adding that it also provided top Chardonnay fruit, although he said 2009 remains the benchmark for Cabernet Sauvignon.

John Hancock, of Trinity Hill, said he’s still waiting to see if 2013 can top 2009 for reds, the region’s staples, but ‘it is undoubtedly a great year’.
Reports across New Zealand suggest all major regions are likely to impress with the latest harvest. Central Otago is looking very good, but did suffer some ‘frost issues’; Marlborough has enjoyed another excellent year, and Martinborough has also seen a very fine year, albeit below the lofty standards of 2008.

Written by Ken Gargett

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