A dry summer and sunny September, characterised by blistering daytime temperatures and warm nights, have contributed to perfect ripening conditions. Denbies winemaking team predicts 2016 to be one of the most successful vintages ever for the estate.
Denbies’ CEO Chris White comments: ‘The quality is expected to be quite exceptional this year. We are anticipating high yields and expect to double the amount of sparkling production from last year’s harvest. The exceptional quality of this year’s vintage will also enable us to produce a record amount of single varietal wines, labelled under our Denbies “vineyard select” range.’
‘Most of the vines on Denbies’ estate are growing on a chalk sub-soil,’ explains viticulturist Duncan McNeill. ‘As chalk is extremely good at holding moisture, the vines have not been placed under excessive drought stress this year but still had to deal with mild moisture deficit. This is beneficial as it triggers a physiological response in the plants: they become more efficient at transporting sugar into the berries, thus improving ripening.’
McNeill continues: ‘We expect the fruit to reach higher levels of natural sugar and achieve more intense flavours than in a normal year. Warm night time temperatures have caused the acidity levels in the grapes to drop faster, which is fantastic as getting the relatively high levels of berry acidity to drop before harvest can be a challenge in the cool UK climate.’
John Worontschak, Chief Winemaker at Denbies is expecting top quality from this vintage: ‘This incredible heat spell has brought on the ripening and we are already witnessing sugars rising and acids falling dramatically. The forecast is for a dry October and if this is the case we should expect excellent fruit quality, especially for premium late ripeners such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.’
Denbies started with the picking of some 7 tonnes of Solaris, at the end of September, a new variety for the estate. Developed for producing still wine in cool or cold climates, Solaris is a white grape which ripens in late September in the UK and produces an intensely flavoured, rounded and mellow white wine.
‘This will be our maiden vintage with Solaris,’ says Chris White. ‘We have great hopes for this variety and can’t wait to see how it expresses Denbies’ terroir. To start a promising harvest with a new promising variety for Denbies is extremely exciting.’
To follow the #harvest2016, please visit Denbies instagram page https://www.instagram.com/denbies_wine_estate
(pictured – 30yr old Pinot Noir in the Dell. Light crop of Pinot Noir, but complex fruit flavours which are improving by the day.)