2014 Vintage Wrap-up

By Bart van Olphen

2014 Vintage Wrap-up

This year our bucket wines had the challenge of delivering freshness from grapes that had experienced some extreme heatwave conditions.  Here’s a snapshot of the numbers:

Summer 2013/2014 was hot.  There were 41 days over 35 degrees celsius during the season (dec-jan), almost half of them were over 40°C and there were a couple of extended heat waves averaging 45°C daily max temperatures with very high overnight lows. Here’s a comparison with the long term averages for the region.

Month          Mean Maximum Temp       Long Term Average 

Dec 2013                                       32.0°C                                            30.1°C

Jan 2014                                       35.7 °C                                            32.3°C

Feb 2014                                      33.5 °C                                            31.6°C

Mar 2014                                     30.8°C                                            28.3°C

The effect this has on the grapes is that they end up with low total acidity and high pH.  This kind of extreme heat also shuts down the vine – as it tries to conserve it’s energy for survival – and so the sugar ripening process in the grapes can stop.  Traditional wisdom would say that these kind of vintages can’t make great wines.

We found out otherwise.  In these conditions it was  great to see and work with varieties that stand up to the heat, even thrive in it – like greco, garganega and lambrusco maestri.  Other less resilient grapes had to be harvested earlier to capture freshness, like nosiola, malvasia istriana and barbera.

Overall it was fantastic to see that we could still make great wines in these harsh conditions. When you work with the season, allowing it to show it’s unique characters, and adapt winemaking to suit the year, remarkable things can happen.  Vibrant, fresh wines can prevail – amazingly without the need for any additions.

I have learned a lot from this vintage, that’s for sure.  I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised by #bucketwine 2014.

Cheers, Bart

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