Never have the challenges been so great yet the potential rewards so high as they were in the 2022 vintage – our ninth at Colmar Estate.
The 2022 vintage was always going to be different. Spring was so cold and so wet that the vines simply didn’t grow as they normally do and we had to wait until December before the vineyard got going. Even then, summer in Orange was the coolest in a generation with the maximum temperature never rising above 29 degrees. As a consequence, the harvest was pushed back by a full month, commencing on 4 April which is normally when we finish.
Now a late harvest is not necessarily a bad thing as it means that the final ripening of the grapes is taking place slowly in the cool of autumn. There is no heat stress, no sunburnt grapes, nice acidity and all of the lovely aromas and flavours are preserved in the grapes. BUT! The grapes hang out in the elements for longer and there is always the risk of the crop getting trashed by bad weather.
Mother Nature was such a fickle temptress in 2022. Time and time again we were asked to throw the dice: we could pick a variety early before it was perfectly ripe and at least ensure we had some wine; or we could risk it all in the oncoming bad weather in the hope of perfect ripeness. Our catch-cry became ‘hold your nerve’. Once there was a 2-day forecast for ‘thunderstorms, possible heavy falls, possible large hail’. In other words, possible total disaster, but we held our nerve and catastrophe missed us, by that much.
Pick after pick came in in perfect condition, the gewurz first, then the pinot gris. Both fantastic. We picked our chardonnay in three batches over eight days, each batch a little riper than the last. The riesling – oh my goodness – simply the best fruit we have seen at Colmar Estate, and that’s saying something. Beautifully clean grapes, nice ripe flavours and excellent acidity. Some wonderful pinot noir fruit came off both Block 1 and Block 3. Expect great colour in the wines – the fruit looked black on the vines.
So, in 2022 we gambled and we won. The wines will be of excellent quality across the board.