Bouchard Finlayson celebrates successful vintage
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Bouchard Finlayson celebrates successful vintage

Vintage 2012 has once again confirmed Pinot Noir as the wine world’s most unpredictable grape, says Bouchard Finlayson cellarmaster Peter Finlayson.

“It has been noted that Pinot Noir is prone to enormous vintage variation, and, this having been my 32nd Pinot Noir vintage in this ward, I have to agree,” says Finlayson. “Even in our consistent climate – where we never fail to reach good natural grape sugar levels – this variation is clearly expressed in our Pinot Noir wines.”

If conditions during the 2012 vintage are anything to go by, then this year’s Pinot Noir will be quite generous, he adds. “This vintage has been one of those extraordinary harvests where the crop has been substantial while the quality is correspondingly good – in my experience this is quite unusual.”

This year the grapes from the Hemel-en-Aarde winery showed low VA levels, with Finlayson observing that the farm has never seen such “clean and unblemished” fruit. Weather conditions were perfect during ripening stages, with dry conditions during the six weeks of harvest securing impeccable quality. Comparing this vintage to 2010 – “which delivered super wines” – Finlayson notes that the difference between the two vintages is that 2012 delivered a bigger crop. “The 2010 harvest was some 25% below average, while 2012 is at least 30% above the norm!”

By comparison 2011 was a particularly wet year. “Important for consumers to know is that these climatic differences do show in our wines, we do not operate in a region where there is no vintage variation, which adds to the beauty of our wines,” he says.

On the white wine front, Finlayson reports that the Chardonnay is looking very promising: “In fact, all the whites should be right on the button.”

His sentiments are on par with reports from the greater Walker Bay region, as well as Elgin. “In contrast I hear from my peers in the Stellenbosch, Paarl and the Swartland that they faced challenging, dry conditions this year and generally complain of a 25% below average crop.”

These observations also point towards the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley’s unique meso-climate. “We are much more susceptible to light rain resulting from localised coastal low pressure occurrences and consequently need to capitalise on the fact that we have a unique meso-climate different to the obvious Stellenbosch and Paarl areas,” comments Finlayson.

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