There is a certain level of anxiety as you run low on stocks of a wine that has been doing so well in the market, what will be made of the next vintage’s offering, and will it measure up? will our loyal followers enjoy this ‘new’ wine as much as the previous?
Here at Kokako, we had a plan to cellar our wines to the point that we felt showed them at their best then release them for sale. The downside is there is a lot of money sitting in a temperature-controlled room, upside we see the wines evolve and change where a lot would be sold out before reaching this point and often consumed before reaching their potential.
Here in NZ, we love our wines but the largest percentage is consumed within days of purchase, very few kiwis keep a cellar.
I got distracted there. Back to succession. So our much loved 2018 Rangiwai Chardonnay is coming to an end, we have cases, not 10’s of cases left.
The next Rangiwai of the block is 2020, as all the fruit from 2019 went to make our icon Awen Chardonnay. So 2020 Rangiwai is two years old now picked just before our first COVID lockdown after a lovely chardonnay vintage. The weather played its part and getting the fruit ripe was not a challenge, deciding when to pick was, ‘would we even get our fruit off the vines as the world COVID numbers went mad.’
So what are the biggest differences between Rangiwai 2018 and Rangiwai 2020! What are their similarities?
Lets start with what these wines have in common.
Same vines growing in Ohiti gravels soils. Tick
Ohiti micro climate. Tick
Kokako team and vine management practices. Tick
Barrel selection from Damy. Tick
So the difference is the season and what that imparts onto our fruit. Chardonnay is a real canary in a cage for how the season was, it's delicate at flowering so inclement weather in early December can mean poor flower set, so bunches get smaller as the total number of berries per bunch reduces. The 120grams usual could easily become 80-90 grams that’s the difference between 7t per hectare and 5t per hectare. So with chardonnay crop loaded does affect fruit quality.
The units of heat that the vines get season if really the final vintage variable, top-end super-hot seasons like 2019 can give you sunburn on chardonnay and early development of uber ripe flavour profiles of nectarine, custard apple, cooler seasons it’s all about citrus fruit and minerality.
Vintage 2020 chardonnay for us in Ohiti was a real goldilocks season, not too hot, not too cold, just right. The result is an exciting development in the Rangiwai lineup, full of ripe stonefruit layering over pink grapefruit and sporting the moreish acidity that I feel is signature Kokako.
2020 doesn’t have that deep rich palate coating texture that comes from being four years old but you can feel it coming on so possibly I can relax a little and enjoy the rotation onto and new vintage, celebrating the fun and excitement of youth!