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Martinborough New Zealand | Climate | Winemaking Notes

Martinborough New Zealand | Climate | Winemaking Notes


The location of Martinborough in the Wairarapa Valley, with complete open exposure to the south and direct line to the Antarctic, is pivotal to the regional character of Martinborough over other regions of New Zealand.




Spring Flowering Effects

Spring weather is typified by very cool wind from the South. Pollination of the bunch happens by wind at temperatures over 14 degrees Celsius (each flower is a potential berry). Cool wet weather during the flowering period result in the flowers aborting and dropping from the bunch. The result is fewer berries per bunch and a lot of very small berries. The resulting bunches are quite different to other regions - smaller, looser and lighter i.e. a low natural yield. The average bunch weight for Pinot Noir in Martinborough is 75-80grams versus 120 to 140grams in Central Otago.


Effects on Wine


 As the bunches are looser each berry is exposed to more light – inner berries are less shaded then if the bunch was a tightly packed (as happens in other regions where there are more sheltered from the south – giving better flowering conditions). The small size of the berries means that the ratio of skin and seeds (where the tannins are) to juice is higher, resulting in more tannin.


Resulting Characteristics of Pinot Noir

I describe the style of Martinborough Pinot Noir versus other regions as this: The wines tend to be more savoury in aromatics, violet, dried herb, and savoury/umami flavours as they age - rather than Red/black fruits. The palate is more about texture and length. Tannins are fine and layered, with length and persistence of palate. The higher amount of tannins shows especially from wine from older vines as a very fine minerally character, versus sweeter, more supple styles produced in other regions.


Effects on Vineyards

 Lower disease pressure as bunches are looser – reducing the likelihood of botrytis.


General Seasonal Conditions

The second major impact that exposure to the south has on the Martinborough climate is the general seasonal conditions. Most people assume that because Martinborough is 700km north of Central Otago that it has hotter summers. This is in fact the opposite. Central Otago is more inland and protected (more a continental climate) with hotter summer temperatures of maximums up to 34C - whereas Martinborough is tempered by the ocean and cool southerly winds, 28 C being a very hot day. As a result we have a longer growing and ripening season, resulting in wines with more depth of tannin structure. The structure of Central Otago wines tends to be based more around acidity (which is good too, just different).