Saturday, October 17, 2009
2003 HAWKES BAY VINTAGE
One of my many readers has asked about the 2003 vintage from Hawkes Bay. This reader is obviously a little slow off the mark. Either that or he has been duped by supermarkets into buying old wine on special that hasn't sold previously due to inferior winemaking or vintage conditions. Sadly the latter applied in this case. 2003 was a difficult year for grape growers and winemakers in Hawkes Bay. Spring brought late frosts that destroyed a lot of grape potential and diminished the quality and quantity of the remainder. The warm summer looked promising but a wet Autumn (when the grapes are picked) negated the advantages of ripeness. Wet picking conditions give grape growers a double whammy. Humidity accompanies rainy conditions and encourages rot and fungal diseases of the grapes - imparting musty and unwanted 'honeyish' characters. Rain also gathers in the bunches and when harvested has a dilution effect on the juice from the crush reducing the intensity of fruit flavours.
Not all wine from this vintage was poor. The best wines stemmed from careful vineyard maintenance and there were some superb examples. Careful vineyard maintenance however means high input costs so these wines are expensive, Remember that I said late Spring frosts also reduced quantity so the best wines were also scarce. It is highly unlikely that our reader discovered an exceptional 2003 Hawkes Bay wine on special at his supermarket. Well done that reader though in feeling confident to ask the question. Keep those queries coming in folks.