Ahead of next month’s highly anticipated release of te Pa’s 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, we caught up with one of our winemakers - Sam Bennett - to find out what’s happening in the winery, and how the 2016 vintages are shaping up:
What’s keeping you busy in the winery at the moment?
Due to such strong demand for our 2015 vintage, we’ve just put our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc blends together for bottling.
Our 2016 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both still in barrel, so we’ll give them some time to chill out and then we’ll start to see both wines come into their own towards spring.
For Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc barrel ferments in particular, we’re only looking for partial malolactic fermentation. We like to leave a portion of the wines un-sulphured over winter, which we think helps with texture and weight on the palate. Often the whites will creep through a bit of malo-lactic fermentation before we get to sulphuring them in Spring.
How’s the 2016 Sauv looking and how does it compare to previous vintages?
The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is looking really good. We had a pretty dry growing season without any significant late season weather pressure. This meant we could let each block hang out until the fruit was nice and ripe and ready to go.
This year we’ve increased the amount of fruit from the Awatere Valley in the Sauv blend, from 10% in our 2015 vintage to 23% for our 2016 vintage, which gives the wine more elegance, length and minerality. When the Awatere fruit is combined with the vibrant, fruit-forward expressions from our home block on the Wairau Bar, the result is a more complex and complete wine and one that we are looking forward to sharing with customers around the world.
te Pa wines will always be based around the Wairau Bar home block which gives our range its signature style, but we are increasingly blending that fruit with small portions of our other company-owned vineyards from around the Marlborough region - such as the Awatere Valley which goes particularly well with the Wairau Bar fruit.
Tell us about the wines you are most excited about for this vintage:
This year we did a 100% hand-picked Pinot Noir Rosé, which is shaping up to be a lovely wine so we’re excited to give customers another beautiful wine off the back of the 2015 vintage.
Which part of the winemaking process do you most enjoy and why?
I always enjoy blending. We’ve now completed all of the Sauvignon Blanc bench blends, so we know which batch is going where and how everything fits together. Getting closer to the finished product always gives me a feeling of satisfaction.
What’s coming up in the next few weeks/months in the winery and when can te Pa lovers expect the 2016 wines on the shelf?
The te Pa 2016 Sauvignon Blanc will be out next month (August 2016), which will come as welcome news to our customers because there was huge demand for the 2015 vintage.
Autumn / Winter 2017 will see the release of our Sauvignon Blanc Oke (a barrique fermented Sauv), as well as the release of our 16 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.