Vintage Report 2005
2005 was a year of change for Grace Vineyard. With our 7 years of experience of managing the vineyard with local growers, we implemented several new initiatives. These included an Incentive Program that rewards growers according to their performance and the quality of the grapes they produce.
Spring temperatures were 1-2 degrees higher than normal, allowing the vines to be unearthed 3-5 days earlier than previous years. This job was finished and the vines irrigated after their long dormancy, by April 5th. Budburst was even and swift and completed by April 15th. With favourable temperatures and abundant sunshine, the vines grew vigorously, giving us confidence that 2005 would be a fruitful year.
In May, the climate of our region (the Northern part of China) was quite unstable, with a mix of warm and cool air streams, but enough warm weather for Chardonnay to flower 4-5 days earlier than normal. Temperatures hovered between 25–28 degrees, ensuring a good fruit set in both white varieties. The good weather was not to last however. Ten days later, during flowering of Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon and Merlot, the temperature had dropped to around 20 degrees, which had the effect of extending the flowering period to more than two weeks. Thankfully yield was only slightly affected, but it shows in an especially concentrated Merlot wine.
In June, we experienced a period of extremely high temperatures. On June 22nd, Taigu experienced a record high of 40.5 degrees (previously 38.2). Fortunately, rain showers followed, alleviating the stress on the vines.
In July and August normal weather patterns returned. Rainfall totals were similar to last year but with heavier and less frequent falls. For example, rainfall on August 18th was approximately 98mm. This was welcomed by the vines after the scorching June, but also caused a little Botrytis (bunch rot) in our white varieties. Picking commenced in late August but with careful bunch selection and attention to detail on our sorting conveyer, only quality fruit was used. Red varieties having tougher berry skins were not affected.
Overall, due to the incidence of higher than average temperatures, white varieties were harvested a little earlier this year. The sugar levels were similar to last year at around 20.3% acidity at 6.9, and pH at 3.7. Harvest for red varieties started in late September and although the weather was less than perfect, sugar levels continued to rise to the highest for some years. All were picked between 22.0-23.5% with good skin colour and wonderful flavour. The harvest was completed on October 13th.
We had our first tasting of 2005 vintage in November. The “fermenting” juice is fruity, deep red in colour, tannins are solid and mature. Now, we are waiting for the winemaking team to do their magic. The best is yet to come…