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Mount Edward Central Otago 2013 Vintage Update

By May 17, 2013No Comments

Duncan Forsyth – A happy Mount Edward proprietor
Celebrating end of 2013 harvest with a glass of Champagne

Duncan Forsyth, winemaker and proprietor of Mount Edward in Gibbston Valley was in Wellington to get a few days rest following over a month of vintage work without a break. It was a good opportunity to catch up and get his thoughts on the 2013 Central Otago harvest.

2013 already has the moniker of an exceptional year for the New Zealand wine industry. The outstanding summer which extended into a glorious autumn was one that New Zealanders have been waiting for years to have, and grapegrowers in general were extremely delighted with the healthy and ripe fruit. Of course many areas suffered from severe drought, to the detriment of the pastoral industry. Such is agriculture where joy for some is countered by woe for others.

It appears much of the North Island will see one of the best harvests for many years, especially in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, the success a little more mixed further north (click here to see the update at Obsidian on Waiheke Island) and in the Wairarapa, though there are some, such as Larry McKenna of Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough who reports that 2013 was the vintage he had been waiting 31 years for! In the South Island, the results are more variable too.

Mount Edward 2013 Vintage
Duncan Forsyth noted that he didn’t have the summer in Central Otago that the North Island experienced. Ironically, the growing season may have been too hot. There was a period of 9 weeks when there was no rain, and the wines shut down in their development. Duncan felt that more cold weather was needed. Despite the damaging frost event in November, when many vineyards, including those of Mount Edward lost fruit, the vintage compensated to a significant degree to eventually yield a bountiful crop, the largest for Duncan to date with an average of 6 tonnes/hectare.

2013 was the “easiest vintage” he could remember at Mount Edward. Picking decisions were made on acidity rather than flavour. The fruit from the different sub-regions varied. It was a difficult year for the Gibbston district, but the Cromwell area was the best for Duncan. Excellent fruit also came from the ‘Morrison’ and ‘Wanaka Road’ sites and Lowburn in general. The Bendigo crop was poor, being reduced by the frosting.

How the Wines Look
At this early stage, Duncan was reticent in making a definitive pronouncement on the quality of the 2013 wines. He reported the reds seemed better than the whites, the latter lacking a little acidity to be ideal. “All of the wines showed very good varietal character”, but felt the structure was not as strong as other years. Having said that, he saw that there was better structure from fruit from the older vineyards. From an overall perspective, Duncan liked all of the wines, which are of good quality. The words “pretty” and “floral” are appropriate, and they will be “punter friendly”. With their fruit-driven nature and less structure, they resemble the 2011s. In summary, he said “there will be smart wines” and there will be “pockets of greatness”, but this will not be the year for “Killer Wines”.

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