Vintage Report 2018
FROM THE VIEWPOINT OF A WINEMAKER THE GROWING SEASON OF 2018 COULD HARDLY HAVE BEEN MORE EXTREME. THERE WAS SUCH A GREAT SUMMER AND IT LASTED SO LONG! HISTORY TEACHES THAT IN SUCH YEARS, FOR EXAMPLE 1959 AND 1976, THE RIESLINGS FROM THIS PART OF THE NAHE SHINE. AND THAT#S HOW IT IS ONCE AGAIN IN 2018!
The year began the way 2017 ended, really wet. In January there was no hint of winter cold or a stable dry period, and that made pruning the vines unpleasant work. February and March brought less rain and colder weather. These low temperatures delayed the bud break of the vines and reduced the risk of a spring frost catastrophe of the kind we experienced in 2017. So, in spite of „poor“ weather, we were happy.
Then the exceptional weather pattern began in earnest. April 2018 was the warmest and sunniest April ever recorded! Abruptly, the entire valley awoke from its winter slumber and the vegetation seemed to explode. With that our nice plan for orderly vineyard work landed in the wastepaper bin and we had to run to keep up with the growth of the vines.
But we also began to quiver with fear, because there was then the danger of frost damage. Although daytime temperatures were summer-like, at night the thermometer plunged. We were lucky though, and it didn’t go below zero. This time the man with a white beard sitting on a cloud was in a good mood.
Late May to early June the heavens opened once again. Literally every cloud brought rain, and the vineyard soils soaked up the water as though they knew what was going to follow. However, back then none of us guessed how decisive this phase would be for the vintage.
Thanks to perfect weather the flowering of the vines was finished within 10 days, rather than the usual 2-3 weeks. From that moment on it was clear there would be an early harvest under relatively warm conditions, unless there was an unusually cool summer. However, 10 full weeks of high pressure, warm temperatures and sunshine followed.
At the end of this long phase the only things in the valley that were still green were the vines! It was then clear to us that all the compost and straw we’d spread in our vineyards over the last 10 years, along with ground-cover plants we encourage to grow there, really had made our vines deep-rooting. Far below the surface in cracks in the volcanic and slate bedrock their roots reached water from the May and June rains, and in that way they survived the long drought.
The earliest harvest on record at Gut Hermannsberg began under summery conditions on the 5th September. We had to pick the base wine for our sparkling Sekt, the Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and some grapes for Just Riesling very quickly early in the morning in order to use the cooling effect of the night.
The first really cool nights at the end of September brought a sudden and welcome change. It may be hard to believe, but after just one cool night the aromas of the grapes changed. Waiting for this perfect moment paid off und we started picking Riesling in earnest.
I was astonished by the result: golden grapes with great spicy aromas and a fine, yet persistent acidity. The 13th October, almost 6 weeks after we started picking was the last day of the harvest. Our anticipation for the first tasting of the fermented 2018 vintage wines grew every day
This January came the moment of truth. After the fermentation yeast had settled somewhat in the casks we were able to taste the freshness, elegance, finesse and character of the 2018 vintage. It was a rollercoaster ride of a year, but the wines of fulfil all our hopes.
Yours Karsten Peter