Initially, a challenging growing season across much of Europe, 2013 is shaping up to be a strong vintage for Kobrand portfolio wineries in: California’s Sonoma and Carneros, Burgundy and Beaujolais in France, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and the Veneto in Italy, and New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay and Martinborough.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Winemaker Katie Madigan enthused, “The 2013 vintage was exceptional. With a near perfect growing season, all grape varieties saw a long, even maturity. Temperatures never spiked or dipped, but stayed pleasantly warm throughout the year. This helped color and tannin easily develop within the berry clusters and both were easily extractable at harvest. The harvest was longer than the past couple of vintages, but “slow and steady” seemed the correct way to construct these great wines. Chardonnay is richly textured, with more tropical notes. Zinfandel has dense hues and profound aromas. Bordeaux varieties are much richer than we’ve seen in a few years, showing great promise for cellaring. We’re excited to watch these wines evolve through barrel ageing.”
Benziger Family Winery Owner Mike Benziger called the 2013 vintage a “Mercedes in the garage. Wine consumers have a lot to celebrate. 2013 was a much more intense harvest [than 2012]. The normal 6-8 week harvest was done in 5 weeks. In some cases, we picked Chardonnay, Pinot, Merlot and Cabernet all on the same day. It was one of the earlier harvests to start and finish in a decade. Vines started their development quite early because of the dry weather, so there was plenty of ‘hang time.’ Sauvignon Blanc is excellent, with better varietal character than 2012, and a bigger crop too. Chardonnay was very good. 2012 and 2013 exhibit beautiful fruit and have very appealing and alluring richness. It won’t get any better than 2012 and 2013 for Pinot lovers. The wines have great poise and balance. There’s a good supply, so make room in your cellar. Quality-wise, Merlot was a star in 2013. For Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013s are big and intense, with exceptional color and body. We took extra care not to over extract so the wines will have plenty of flavor as well as great balance and grace.”
Pointing up her appellation’s cooler climate conditions, Domaine Carneros CEO and Founding Winemaker Eileen Crane noted, “2013 has been a wonderful growing season. From bloom to harvest, it’s been about 10 days longer than usual. Grape sugars are just where we want them, with nearly perfect flavors and balance. Ripening has been even and the harvest [was completed] at a nice, steady pace. The newly pressed juice is delicious, and the aroma of fermenting juice in the cellar is so rapturous, I never want to leave.”
Maison Louis Jadot’s Technical Director Frédéric Barnier observed, “Thus far, the whites show good acidity, freshness and ripeness while the reds display good color and mature, noble tannins. Of course, malolactic fermentations must finish before we have a precise idea of the touch of the vintage.
In Chablis, yields were unusually small (one third or more below normal), but grapes were healthy. Yields were similar in the Mâconnais and for Côte d’Or white wines. The challenge for the whites was to pick at just the right moment between sufficient ripeness with balance and not too much botrytis. The first Côte d’Or grapes harvested were whites. For reds, the process was the same, but a good surprise was that the area affected by the big July hailstorm produced really good grapes with almost no botrytis. Yields were really small in the Côte de Beaune (half the normal amount), but normal in the Côte de Nuits.
We vinified using long macerations with only pigeage (punching down). Predictably, it was absolutely necessary to take time for careful sorting and a strict selection to choose what to put into the tank. Then there were no difficulties; the wines underwent good fermentations with expressive flavors. At first, we stirred the lees a bit to help the density of some white wines, but we’ve stopped to observe the malolactic.”
Jadot’s Barnier continued, [Despite the growing season’s challenges,] “2013 is a good vintage in Beaujolais: the wines are full and have good structure. Yields were low (around 35-40 hectoliters per hectare), but the grapes had beautiful color and good health. [For Cru Beaujolais], the Chateau des Jacques wines are really dense and deep. [With] 2013, we have a good vintage in Beaujolais with very nice balance. For character, I think 2013 is between 2011 and 2009.”
Fernando Pighin & Figli Owner Roberto Pighin recounted, “The 2013 harvest in our Friuli Grave and Collio estates has been very good, at least equal to 2012. Heavy rain during the spring flowering was followed by extreme summer heat. Conditions greatly improved over late summer and remained optimal, allowing for excellent maturity of the grapes. Particularly cool nights, sunny days and clear skies helped the fruit develop excellent levels of acidity, pH and alcohol. The wines are very balanced thanks to an exceptional evolution of aromas, a pleasant freshness from balancing acidity, and our typically clean winemaking.”
Masi Agricola’s General Coordinator of Masi Technical Group and Marketing Director Raffaele Boscaini noted, “For 2013, analysis revealed grape bunches that were perfectly healthy and well-spaced, leading us to predict a great vintage. The best news for the vintage was certainly the frequent spring rainfall that thinned out the flowering on the vines and, in the process, created well-spaced grape bunches which are ideal for the delicate Appassimento process. Overall, 2013 yields were 10-15% lower than average. Hailstorms affected several zones of Valpolicella, but fortunately not the higher-altitude [sites] where we have our vineyards. Low temperatures and high rainfall led to consequently lower yields, [but this was compensated for] by the excellent quality of well-spaced grape bunches, ideal for Appassimento. In the end, a hot summer has led to healthy grapes and a good level of ripeness, ensuring good total acidity and sugar levels for successful vinification. The high temperatures registered in some vineyards [during] veraison led to slight stress on the vines, enough to give extra aroma and color to the skins. Good diurnal thermal variations at the beginning of September have proved beneficial for all grape varieties in the region.”
Craggy Range Winery’s Director of Wine and Viticulture, Steve Smith MW, offered boundless enthusiasm and praise: “In 2013, if you were in our vineyards and wineries or involved in growing grapes or making wine at Craggy Range, particularly in Hawkes Bay, you would have witnessed the vintage of a generation. This is not a statement made lightly. It is a considered, carefully composed opinion defined without the influence of emotion. Well that bit is untrue; we are extremely, irrationally, effusively-doing-back-flips excited about 2013. For Craggy Range, this is the vintage of a generation. We will produce the most complete suite of wines we have ever made. They will be highly tuned, exemplary examples of what we see as wines from our estates, from our house. The rock stars will be Sophia and Le Sol as they notch up another couple of rungs on the fine wine scale, but in fact every red wine from our Gimblett Gravels Vineyard will produce the highest quality example we have made. Te Kahu will be outrageous value for money. The most satisfying wine for me though will be the Sauvignon Blanc from our Te Muna Road Vineyard. Delicious, textured Sauvignon Blanc that can only be made from this vineyard… We may see a vintage like this again, I certainly hope so. But in the meantime, I am very confident in saying I have never experienced one such as this.”