We received a very dry winter again without normal winter rains, however we did get 200mm of late winter rain preceding budburst. Spring brought several frosts, which caused damage in a small area, but the frosts were restricted to low lying areas and were limited to a short period unlike last years 5 weeks of widespread frost. Those vines affected this year had time to recover and produced a crop.
Flowering was early by about 2-3 weeks and warm dry conditions prevailed during most of the growing season, necessitating regular careful irrigation to keep the vines healthy and photosynthesizing.
Vintage started early with a similar timing to 2007 with chardonnays coming with very nice natural acid balance and baumes in the 12.0 -12.5 range.
We picked most of the reds late in March and early in April at very good ripeness and we have produced intense wines with fantastic colour and ripe flavours but also with ripe tannins. They are not big wines as one might expect in a hot year but medium bodied with good balance and perfume.
In the winery we did a lot of barrel fermentation this year, the reds fermented more slowly than normal and we transferred them into oak at pressing and allowed them to finish in oak at their own rate.
We were able to do long macerations 25-30 days on skins with our best vineyards as normal and these wines responded well to the extended time on skins. They are now all pressed and in new oak settling down and doing malo-lactic fermentation.
Overall, as they settle down the 2008 vintage wines look to be very very good, lovely ripe perfumed wines with medium body, lovely balance and soft tannins, similar in style perhaps to 2006.