The 2016 harvest has delivered exceptional results for Denbies’ premium wines, particularly red and white varietals, as well as its award-winning Noble Harvest dessert wine.
Following an unusually early start to the harvest, 2016 did not produce record volumes all round at the 265-acre Surrey estate. However, the outstanding quality of the grapes means that the winery team will be producing more premium wine from the estate’s top quality smaller parcels, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Bacchus.
Denbies Viticulturist Duncan McNeill comments: ‘The quality of the grapes this year is the best it has been for at least 15 years. Not only have the warm temperatures and high sunshine hours helped, but the absence of any real rain has meant that the pressure from fungal bunch rot has been virtually nil. This has allowed us extended ‘hanging time’ – meaning we have delayed harvesting in order to allow flavour compounds to develop in the grapes. We have for example harvested Pinot Noir with natural potential alcohol of 12%.’
John Worontschak, head winemaker at Denbies, adds: ‘In terms of grape and wine quality the second half of the 2016 harvest will go down in legend as being almost impossibly perfect. At Denbies this meant that we were able to pick at leisure, precisely when we wanted to, achieving disease free fruit with parameters amongst every variety, for any style desired that were textbook perfect.’
The most welcome result of 2016 for Denbies is the record volume of Ortega which makes its multi award-winning dessert wine, Noble Harvest. Denbies is currently handpicking the largest crop of botrytised Ortega on record. Such is the quality of the first selective noble rot pick that Denbies will be releasing a limited edition 30th anniversary Noble Harvest, which will be available mid-2017.
Denbies’ expert vineyard team recognised the potential in the four acre (1.6 ha) Ortega plot early on and have been carefully monitoring the levels of botrytis since the start of harvest. The dry summer and sunny September, characterised by above average daytime temperatures and warm nights, followed by cool misty mornings and afternoon sunshine of October contributed to perfect ripening conditions.
Christopher White, Denbies CEO, comments: ‘This plot of Ortega, located on the lower south facing slopes, has demonstrated extraordinary ripeness, lending itself perfectly to the production of our Noble Harvest. Sweet wine production in the UK is generally rare and dependent on growing conditions. Not only are we delighted that we are able to produce Noble Harvest for the third consecutive year but 2016 has also delivered record volumes for our award-winning dessert wine. With increased volumes, the future for availability of Denbies Noble Harvest is looking extremely positive.’