One could almost hear the vines crying out for joy: ‘Finally – water!’
A year of extremes
The year 2016 will remain in the memory of us winegrowers as a year of extremes. Following a very mild winter, the start of the vegetation cycle was again retarded by a cool March and a cool April. After the vines budded at the end of April, there was an influx of cold air. We were very fortunate that, compared to other regions, our vines suffered no damage from frost. In May and June the temperatures corresponded to the annual averages. The rains, though, at times reached an almost apocalyptic magnitude. In the month of May alone, we received more than double the volume that is normal for the season.
The vines took best advantage of this and developed enormous vigour. At the same time, the conditions were extremely favourable for infections of Peronospora, and just exactly at the time of blossoming, when the newly set fruit is at the most susceptible. Here, the options available to us with our organic means of plant protection were challenged to the limits. But at the end, we were fortunate once more that our vineyards in Westhofener Wingertsberg were not horribly affected. Many parcels on the lowlands suffered great losses. Ultimately we can say that we came away from the fight with ‘just a black eye...’
After the rain comes the sunshine
In July, the weather took a positive turn. The sun showed itself quite frequently and everything got a chance to dry out. Temperatures were slightly above normal. Thanks to a great deal of manual labour, removal of diseased shoots and unhealthy clusters, plus good balance in the growth of vegetation, the vineyards developed in a very positive fashion. From the middle of August, late summer was on its best behaviour, so that it almost became too dry – but our heavy clay marl soils had stored adequate water from springtime. Even in September, the temperature frequently rose above 30°C and the clusters ripened handsomely. We began harvesting the Pinot family at the end of September. We were very glad about the golden yellow, ripe Weisser Burgunder, and the aromatic and nicely matured red Spätburgunder grapes. The Riesling harvest of 2016 proceeded in classic fashion: with a rather early preliminary harvest, once more fewer ripe clusters sorted out.
The main harvest then took pace from mid October. We started in Nierstein on the 11th, then AULERDE followed on the 11th and KIRCHSPIEL in the next few days. The clusters in BRUNNENHÄUSCHEN and MORSTEIN ripened, as they often do, a few days longer on the vine. Here the main harvest did not begin until the last days of October. Who, in the early days of summer, could have anticipated such ultimately exciting quality from the vintage? Distinguishing characteristics of the vintage include ripe material and a well-balanced acidity, as well as modest alcohol levels: classic in the best sense of the word.