2016 La Motte Harvest Report

“I am expecting the smaller berries to result in complexity and intensity for our red wines”, says La Motte Cellarmaster, Edmund Terblanche about the 2016 harvest.

“We were challenged by exceptional summer heat and water shortages, as we had, on average, 33% less rain than normal and were running out of irrigation options. It is, however, important to remember that the season started during autumn 2015! Autumn and winter 2015 offered ample cold units and initial normal rainfall. Spring also started off well, without too much wind or heat and, at that stage, with enough water. It was since the end of October that the exceptional heat and dry conditions created negative conditions. Metabolic processes of the vine change in the heat and can affect quality factors such as acidity and the development of flavours. Dry-land vineyards, especially, suffer in these conditions.

Similar to last year, the harvest also started 10 to 14 days earlier than what we regard as normal. As mentioned, berry size is smaller, bunches lighter and yields lower.

It is the first time that we harvested Sauvignon Blanc before we started picking Pinot Noir for our Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine. This is a clear indication that the extreme conditions had a different effect on different varieties. The Pinot Noir yield, for instance, is much lower while Sauvignon Blanc volumes are quite similar to 2015.

I am exceptionally pleased with our Franschhoek Sauvignon Blanc. Acidity is slightly lower, but the grapes are healthy, with intense tropical flavours. While the Sauvignon Blanc is expected to be lighter, the Semillon that we use as a blending partner is somewhat fuller and I expect the 2016 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc to have a lovely fruitiness and freshness.

We are particularly pleased with the acidity and flavours of Sauvignon Blanc harvested in the Wine or Origin: Southern Cape region, especially grapes from Elgin and Elim. These grapes are destined for the 2016 Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc.

Reds ripened simultaneously and we had to manage picking carefully to ensure we get the grapes into the cellar at the optimum ripeness. It seems as if the season might end just as abruptly as it started! I am, however, delighted with the red varieties and expect complexity and intensity from the 2016 wines.

In general, despite initial industry concerns, 2016 might be a challenging year, but in the end I think it will be more interesting than negative and I look forward to what we can do with this year’s harvest!

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