Vintage 2022 in Review – No Shortage of Excellence
As our 2022 vintage wines begin to make their way into market, our Head Winemaker, Adam Hazeldine, takes a look back and shares his view on Vintage 2022.
Weather is always that one thing a winemaker can’t control, and we definitely had one eye on the sky throughout the season that culminated in our 2022 harvest. A dominant La Niña weather pattern meant that our usually dependable westerlies, which cast a rain-shadow, were frequently challenged by winds from the east and north. These winds tend to be wetter and, because they’re unimpeded by mountain ranges, tend to bring more rain to our vineyards. At their worst, they can also bring cyclones down from the tropics, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case for this harvest.
Good conditions at flowering and a steady supply of rain early in the season led to big canopies and some large crops that needed thinning to maintain quality. With pressure from potential COVID-19 closures and some late February rain, we decided to start our harvest earlier than usual — better to have a few good grapes than none at all!
The early varieties, such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, were picked in great condition. The Pinot Noir, for both Rosé and Red, is showing nice bright fruit forward flavours, and the Chardonnay is looking excellent.
This season, the Pinot Gris and the Albariño have just the right balance of freshness and body. Sauvignon Blancs are generally in the vibrant juicy-green spectrum, with a lot of pungent blackcurrant and passionfruit thiols. The organic Sauvignon Blanc was in excellent condition as harvest approached, so we held out a little longer for a weightier result.
Our Hawke’s Bay season started off well with good weather; dry and warm with nice westerlies. This gave us a nice compact flowering period, which means we had good uniformity of ripeness when harvest rolled around.
After the dry flowering, we had a relatively wet December which encouraged cell division (which increases berry size), and healthy canopies. January was sunny, but that was followed by some late February rain that is not ideal for the earlier varieties.
We saw a small amount of botrytis in the Chardonnays, but the wines are looking clean and well weighted with good intensity. The Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Franc were ripe and clean and have been blended into a refreshing, berry-driven Rosé. The Syrah sourced from Gimblett Gravels for our Classics range is ripe and juicy, with great red fruit flavours, and is already developing suppleness and some complex spicy notes.
At this early stage the overall highlights, for me, of the 2022 vintage in the Marlborough region are the Black Label and Family Estate Sauvignon Blancs. I’m also looking forward to the release of the Family Estate Chardonnay and Albariño, and of course our fan favourite, Babich Sauvignon Blanc. Hawke’s Bay highlights are the Irongate Chardonnay, which is currently building nicely in barrel now, and the Classic Hawke’s Bay Syrah, which is well on target to be enjoyed during BBQ season, two years from now.
There’s definitely no shortage of excellent Babich wines on the way!
- Adam Hazeldine