Following the very difficult 2019 vintage, the post-harvest weather conditions were very favourable. We received a quite a bit of rain during the harvest and that was backed up by decent winter rains and cold days.
Bud break was even and the estimates of the yield were looking great. The Vineyards were looking stress-free and in good condition with little disease pressure.
Harvest started two weeks earlier than usual in January with the Pinotage for the Delheim Rosé. The analysis of the juice was perfectly balanced and the flavour expression was fantastic. It was a great start to a very promising vintage. The ripening conditions during harvest were perfect with moderate days, mild evenings, no heat spikes and small rainfall.
The vintage was fast-paced and very compressed. In a normal vintage we would still be picking red grapes well into March but this year we were done practically the last week in February. This just happened to be well-timed with the South African “lockdown” for the coronavirus. We were one of the few farms lucky enough to have most of the harvesting work done without having to rush to complete picking before the “lock down”. With such a fast-paced compressed vintage is was only fitting to wait until May (three months later) to pick our Noble Late Harvest Riesling grapes from the oldest block of vineyards on the farm.
Summary of grapes:
White cultivars had above normal yields showing great concentration on flavours and good acids. Chenin blanc in particular stood out with fruit expression and natural balance in the grapes.
Red cultivars had a “bumper” year with yields far above average, juice analysis showed balanced acids, strong colour extraction and riper fruitier flavours(even though it was picked far earlier than usual). Grapes were smaller and more concentrated which resulted in better concentration. There will be some powerful reds in this vintage.
Sweet wines came much later when misty and cooler conditions took over. It was a three-month wait but well worth it. Botrytis infection took longer which resulted in a much smaller yield but more concentrated.
Overall I think 2020 vintage will be remembered for more than one reason. The quality looks like it could be a vintage for the hall of fame and also the unusual circumstances in which the world finds itself will also be linked to this vintage. A very compressed harvest with the sweet noble late picking that happened much later, felt like another vintage on its own.