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marlborough pinot noir - winemaker & ownz chairman clive dougall, fills us in #4

During seasons with a lot of disease pressure what organic methods do you use to combat these?

We try to pre-empt any potential issues before they arise, with a particular focus on canopy management, making sure we’re not carrying too much fruit, building diversity in the vineyard through cover crops which improve soil health and encouraging beneficial insects and a strong microbiological population.

How has the 2019/2020 growing season compared with other seasons in Marlborough?

It really turned out to be an excellent vintage, dry and disease free. In general it was a dry season that also experienced a very even flowering and subsequent fruit set. Probably hotter than a usual vintage, however the vines didn’t capture all that heat, and the ripening was not overly accelerated. I wouldn’t consider it to be an overly ripe vintage and the final sugar levels were actually lower than we expected, meaning the wines have delicious ripe flavours, but with some lower alcohols which is a great combination.

Have the vineyards adapted fully to organic viticulture if they started as a 'conventional' vineyard?

That’s a really tough question to answer, as all vineyards get managed differently according to what the main purpose is for conversion to organic.

How do you think organic and/or biodynamic processes affect the flavour profile of the wine, do you see this during winemaking process?

Although it’s a generalisation, I would say that often vineyards that are organic or biodynamic are so because the purpose is to create more interesting wines of higher quality and unique expressions of sites. This often means that yields are lower and wines are of higher quality. Usually an organic vine produces grapes that are more resilient and have thicker skins, which in turn produces more textural wines with more substance and complexity.

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