Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

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Vintage 2023 report from Marlborough

Late and smaller but good quality

How did harvest go in Marlborough this year? Three things sum it up best for Daniel Le Brun: late, lack of sunshine and a smaller yield than anticipated but the silver lining was clean grapes.

"Harvest was about two weeks late this year due to the lack of sunshine in the late summer in Marlborough but the crop was clean (without fungal disease issues) and we had good weather at the time of harvesting the grapes, which made it easy for the picking crew to bring the fruit in."

The French born winemaker is one of the most experienced in Marlborough and this is his 42nd vintage in the region, so he has seen many changes over that time. The defining feature of this year's harvest was a smaller yield than anticipated but with good quality grapes, free from significant issues due to relatively dry weather. Marlborough escaped the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, which seemed to take one look at this large wine region and give it the swerve.

"Our slightly smaller yield from the home vineyard this year meant that we needed to purchase extra Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from our growers to make up our maximum intake and luckily we could do that," says Le Brun. 

The summer weather was significantly cooler than average, but this will have very little impact on the flavour profiles of the different varieties used by No 1 Family Estate; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the vast majority of the crop. Slightly higher acidity is not detrimental in this case because it was not significant and acidity is often a plus in sparkling winemaking because it accentuates freshness. It can also easily be moderated by winemaking techniques such as malolactic fermentation and long ageing time in the bottle on lees following the second fermentation.