How different a year can be? Some would say the more things change, the more they stay the same!
I never understood that until I started working with the natural cycles of nature. We are so dependent on it, and year on year dawns a (not so new) realization that we are so under the sway of it. We may think that we hold some power over it, but in actual fact, it is nature that controls the factors that have the ultimate say over quality in any given vintage.
The 2023 vintage is a perfect example of how a lead-up to a vintage could look so similar to another, but those subtle differences, things like slightly better winter rainfall numbers, and gradual increase in temperatures, as opposed to (not even big) sudden spikes of heat in the Spring/budding months (like in 2022), make all the difference. Even though the average temperatures for August/September were almost identical, the results could not have been more different.
So, what was the biggest difference I hear you ask? Well, for one, we started harvesting on average about 10 days earlier. That in itself, is huge. Ripeness levels were achieved earlier almost across the board, all it seems except Chardonnay which just meandered along like normal as if nothing really matters.
This means that we have more fresh fruit aromas on all the whites and the reds show finer structured tannins and great profiles of a whole spectrum of luscious fruit.
But you had to be ready for it! Missing your picking date on the ripe side can be disastrous. Luckily myself and my viticultural teams were aware of the signs, and we got the ball rolling before the crush of harvest hit – resulting in aromatically fresh wines with fine structure and pure texture.
The 2023 vintage will be seen as one of the better vintages this side of the 2010’s. Just how good? Only time will tell.
– Henry Kotzé