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With all of our grapes now in the winery, and winemaking well underway, our 2021 Vintage is starting to take shape. And it’s certainly one to watch. Here’s what our winemakers had to say on the 2021 Vintage.

Marlborough
Overall, 2021 was an excellent year for Marlborough and for Sauvignon Blanc. An early Spring brought forward budburst but cold November rain drew out flowering and late frosts contributed to a lower than ideal fruit set. A dry January was followed by rain in March that assisted ripening, bringing the fruit to excellent condition. We started harvesting early, but not exceptionally so compared with recent vintages.

Sauvignon Blanc
Our Sauvignon Blancs are bursting with tropical fruits, perfumed thiols, displaying great depth and purity. Budburst was early in our Marlborough vineyards and fruit set light. After a wet start the season was very dry with average temperature.  As a result, we had a nice long ripening period even with an earlier harvest.

Light crops and a long ripening season have resulted in flavour and concentration. This year we see lots of ripe tropical and fruit salad notes. We’re also seeing plenty of perfumed thiols; Blackcurrant, Passionfruit, and Broom. We’re bottling the first of our Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc now, with our Black Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc still on lees, developing yet more weight and complexity. We’ll bottle that in a few months.

Pinot Noir
Low crops have resulted in some incredible tasting fruit across all three of the valleys we grow in.  Our Pinot Noirs are deeply coloured and flavoursome. They’re just starting their secondary, or malolactic, fermentation now.

Rosé + Pinot Gris
The Rosés are vibrant and our Pinot Gris are fresh and balanced.

Our Organic wines
We are thrilled with the quality of fruit coming from our Organic vineyards. The Sauvignon Blanc is displaying its typical characters (mineral, citrus, and spice) and showing real depth with layers of flavour. We will allow this to further develop on lees also.

Hawke’s Bay
Warm Spring temperatures brought forward flowering, kicking off the season early. A trend that continued with the earliest harvest we’ve ever had from Hawke’s Bay – starting with Chardonnay on the 23rd of February. No pressure at all to pick as the weather was kind and the fruit condition excellent.

Chardonnay
Low crop levels meant concentrated and ripe flavours.  Both our Irongate and Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay look weighty and flavoursome.

Reds
The Syrah and Bordeaux reds are shaping up to be intense, dense, and long at this early stage.

Another vintage, another exciting selection of sustainably crafted wines. This is the stage of winemaking where the magic happens and we live for it. Here’s to 2021!

Wine companies typically throw away up to a quarter of their harvest every year. Before you bemoan the loss of all that wine… no, we don’t throw wine away. It’s just that grape juice comes along with things like grape skins, seeds, bits of stem and whatnot – things we cannot use to make wine. Once the juice has been extracted, this dry marc is of no use to a winemaker, and in the past was carted off to landfill.

But at Babich we’re exploring different ways to make good use of grape marc.

Some of it is provided to farmers as is, for use in stock feed. With recent droughts in New Zealand, farmers are forced to augment their animals’ primary diet of grass. Importantly, the marc reduces farmers’ reliance on palm kernel as an ingredient in stock food, which helps save the rain forest, which helps save the planet from the build-up of greenhouse gases. Neat, ay?

Some of the marc we provide to cropping farmers, who plough it into their fields to enrich the soil, to grow food for people.

Grape marc also offers the potential to be upcycled into more valuable products. Babich provides grape marc to two companies doing research in this area. One avenue is to refine the marc for a higher grade of stock feed, but there are also efforts to use grape marc as a major ingredient in pharmaceutical products. One of these is using the grape seeds for human dietary supplements.

We are watching these developments with great interest, as we just hate for anything to go to waste. Nature looks after us, and we like to return the favour.

We’re lucky in many ways. There’s the great terroir of Marlborough that give our wines their special character, and the excellent wild yeast we’re blessed with in our winery.

But it is also true that we work very hard to get the best results. Like golfer Gary Player said so memorably: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

Babich has certainly had lots of practise making wine in New Zealand for over 100 years.

We believe in being as hands-off as possible in our winemaking to let nature express itself. But we have found that giving nature just the right little nudge at crucial junctures can really bring out the best in our wine. The right temperature, the right yeast, the right racking regime, the right blending… it all helps.

Since 2015, we’ve increasingly been using the wild yeast in our winery. To get the fermentation going, we simply make sure the juice is at the ideal temperature, and then we wait… This yeast has proven to be very good, bringing out great flavours in the wine.

But the wine you buy in the bottle does not just come from a single ferment. Now that they understand the flavour profile of every batch of wine, our winemakers are carefully blending them to create the best combination. And the best promises to be very good in 2021, with outstanding quality across the board.

So, perhaps the really lucky ones are the people who can buy Babich wine!

We love heat in the vineyard. But in the winery… not so much.

Cool temperatures are great to develop fruity flavours when you ferment a wine such as Sauvignon Blanc. That is why you’d often see on a tasting note that the wine was “cool fermented”. By keeping the ferment cool, we can control the metabolic rate of the yeast, thereby influencing how it converts sugar into alcohol and also what flavours are enhanced in the process.

Of course, keeping the wine cool after fermentation helps to lock in the flavours.

Because cooling is so important in winemaking, our Marlborough winery was especially designed with this in mind. Louvres open at night to allow cool air in, and are closed when day temperatures rise to keep the cool air inside. Having a smaller differential between the ambient temperature and the desired temperature of the wine means we need to use less energy.

There is one exception to this chilled-out approach: To start fermentation, we often need to warm up the juice a bit, so the yeast can get going.

Rather than spend a lot of energy to generate heat, we use technology to recover the latent heat released by our usual refrigeration processes, and use that for heating. In effect, the same energy that is already used for cooling some tanks is used to heat others! Pretty neat.

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