April saw average temperatures give way to much warmer conditions in the second half of the month. May was mildly warmer than average. A cool early June saw a warmer than average end. July saw above average temperatures with a heat spike on the continent spreading its warmth into the southern UK with a very warm period in the second half. An average first half of August was followed by significantly above average temperatures in the second half, with warmer conditions for the bulk of September.
Bud burst was early in the last week of March / beginning of April. Fruit set came in early July as usual. Véraison came in the third week of August. It became apparent that fruit set in the Pinot noir had been more drawn out than most had thought, with some parcels quite significantly ahead of the others. This phenomenon was reported widely across southern England.
We prepared for a more drawn out pick commencing in the first week of October. A predominantly dry August gave way to warm but wetter conditions in the second half of September slowing the rise in sugars, giving way to cloudy & wetter conditions in early October as first the remnants of an eastern Atlantic hurricane (Lorenzo) clipped the south east and then the jet stream came further south drawing in a succession of low pressures. Nevertheless, in spite of over three weeks of rain, the fruit remained remarkably clean, while sugar levels edged up incrementally.
The commencement of harvest slipped back 10 days. The delay brought with it a silver lining as by extending the growing season it delivered tremendous phenolic ripeness with unprecedentedly developed fruit flavours. Fears that the rains might dilute the acids too far were misplaced. The long hang time for the Chardonnay allowed sugars to rise, tremendous and quite varied flavours to emerge while presenting zingy acidity.
Harvest was drawn out, conducted parcel by parcel in mainly wet and windy conditions and stretched from Oct 14th to Oct 22nd. The fruit that emerged from waterlogged fields was arguably some of the most characterful we have delivered in a decade with good sugar levels and perfect acids. First fermentation looks promising.