The 2016 Vintage

Jahrgangsbericht 2016: Ein Loblied den Großen Lagen. Vintage report 2016: A Hymn to the VDP.GROSSE LAGEN

That Crazy Year 2016: A Hymn to the VDP.GROSSE LAGEN

The basis for a good vintage will be established in the winter before – if we wish to use the word ‘winter’ to describe the winter of 2015/2016 – rather short and relatively warm. But then, we have almost gotten used to it by now…

After this calm and uneventful period, the leap year 2016 put us to the test right away:  sunshine and warmth – and thanks to these factors a decidedly early start to budbreak, in the midst of which a cooler period interrupted things. This of course manifested itself in a disparity in the relative ripeness of the clusters. Thus it was clear to us early on that we were looking forward to a harvest that would demand great attention in matters of selection. Because it is nearly impossible to compensate for a caesura of nearly two weeks as the vegetation cycle develops.

We would describe the abovementioned cold snap as ‘the great shivering‘ – in the sense of anxiety as well! For nearly a week, temperatures right at the freezing point and the acute danger of frost kept us quite busy. Constantly on our guard to protect the few endangered corners, and in cases of emergency using frost candles to prevent damage. By now it’s certainly becoming clear to us – 2016: this is going to be complicated…

But when all is said and done, we can confidently report that we escaped this period with only a few bumps and bruises.

Demanding – actually crazy – circumstances did indeed prevail. Rain, rain, and more rain. After which it rained. Vineyards that were not so well drained became the sites of new lakes. But for us, happily, this posed no problems.
Keeping the young shoots and clusters healthy – they are particularly susceptible during this phase, with this particular meteorological situation that encourages outbreaks of peronospora (false mildew) – proved to be a real challenge. Healthy grapevines, well supplied with compost, plant-strengthening agents and very keenly focused pest protection: our vines were thus able to survive this tricky situation undamaged. Then springtime brought with it the most rainfall on record since folks began keeping records. No matter whom you asked, nobody could remember a comparable year. As of mid-June we had soaked up more rain than in the entire previous year. This was total insanity.

But as always is the case: sunshine will follow the rain. And that is exactly what happened. There was a stable high-pressure system that set in at the end of July, which most certainly lit a fire under the ripening process. At the beginning of September, everything was caught-up and on target – an excellent starting point for a wonderful autumn.

After a rather brisk period of development, ripening ground to a halt for several days at the beginning of October. We were obliged

to wait, and to have faith in our great vineyards: faith that they would fully realise their marvellous potential.
And then we got under way picking grapes: starting, preliminary harvesting, waiting… more waiting… then full throttle! That is roughly how one might sum up the course of the 2016 harvest. Our procedures in the vineyard took shape as follows: selection, partially in three different containers, followed by additional triage done at the winery. A great deal of effort, which was well worth the trouble.

The estate wines are already showing nice balance at this early juncture, with ripe acidity and lovely freshness. At the top of the list, however, the wines still need time to develop. At the moment they are showing a great deal of yeast; despite this today one can still perceive the fine ripeness of the grapes and the marvellous sense of structure in the wines.

And just as a sprinter will never win a marathon, great wines will never be in top form after only four months time. But despite this, one can always look forward to a foretaste of complexity, and it is exactly the promise of this that the 2016ers are already currently demonstrating. So please have a bit of patience; it is ultimately a long way to September and the debut of our GGs from Steinberg, Rotenberg – and for the first time, Felsenberg. By that time, the 2015er GGs and the Kupfergrube GG ‘Late Release’ will be ready as well.

The greatest pleasure lies in the anticipation!
Your Karsten Peter


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