Written by John & Kathryn Loughlin, proprietors of Askerne Winery
Dear wine friends
2021 is racing by. We started our harvest on 5th March which is the earliest for about 20 years. We have now completed about a third of our harvest, with our early varieties largely complete. The fruit so far has been outstanding with beautiful flavours and lovely acidity giving great freshness. This vintage is throwing up a new challenge as most of our previous 25 vintages have done. This year’s challenge has been the highly publicised labour shortage.
Our 2019 Tere Syrah is the second wine in our “icon range” alongside The Archer Chardonnay. The name Tere honours our site in Te Mata Mangateretere Road, and the fast-flowing Tuki Tuki river which laid down our site including the gravel bed on which we grow our Syrah.
At Askerne we hand-harvest Chardonnay and Viognier in search of the pure characters from whole bunch pressing. We have four blocks of Chardonnay on different soils with five clones planted (Mendoza in 3 blocks and Clone 15 in 2). These have matured differently which has been a blessing with lots of small picks being able to be handled by family, the cellar door team, and friends. We have a long way to go with vintage, but the tension eases slightly with every good parcel of fruit that we bring in.
The Tere Syrah was our auction wine at the 2020 Hawke’s Bay Charity Wine Auction and attracted very strong bidding interest. It is a stylish wine and has a Northern Rhone style to it.
The second of our wines is a new rosé called Sérieux (French for serious) from the 2020 vintage. This is a dry, food-friendly wine that has been made from Carménère and Mourvèdre fruit grown on bony soils. This wine is reminiscent of the rosés from the South of France.
We are planning the release of a sister wine from a subsequent vintage. Rosé is a growing category, and this wine is a serious contribution to that category. This wine is proving really popular at our cellar door.
We have the extensions to our cellar door. As with most construction projects, the work ran on and promised timelines were not met. However, the project was completed in time for Summer and has been worth waiting for. The expanded tasting room and large under-veranda spaces are working really well. They are giving us the ability to offer good tasting experiences to multiple groups simultaneously, without the cramping that was the case in the old cellar door. We have also expanded our cellar door team to lift our service offering and invested in tables and chairs made from recycled wine barrels.
These provide covered seating for our “do it yourself gourmet picnics”. Summer has been a little quieter without the usual visits from overseas tourists. However, we have seen a lot more New Zealanders. Our very strong ratings on Google and Trip Advisor have contributed to this. We thank all of you who have left on-line ratings.
We do have a new special offer on our 2018 Sauvignon Blanc / Sauvignon Gris / Semillon. We made this wine to spearhead an export endeavour. We felt we needed a point of difference from Sauvignon Blanc. We received great feedback on it. However, we have also been told that the world knows and loves NZ Sauvignon Blanc, and the trade will buy what it knows it can sell. So, we are now long on this wine and short on Sauvignon Blanc as our 2019 and 2020 vintages have raced out the door.
We have made the brave decision to remain open 7 days a week for the whole year and will offer the gourmet picnics year-round. Hawke’s Bay does have some good weather on some days outside the tourist seasons.
Early this year we welcomed Cairn Coghill to the Askerne team as winemaker. Cairn has previously worked in the Villa Maria group, Alpha Domus, Hatton Estate and most recently Sileni Estate. Cairn has also worked four vintages in Bordeaux and Oregon. Cairn is bringing leadership, passion and energy to our winery team.
Along with most primary sector employers we are facing significant cost increases. We have made a decision not to lower wine quality and are going to lift our prices to try to recover these. The price increase will take effect from the end of April. So, we are giving you a last opportunity to buy at the old prices.
Stay safe out there
John & Kathryn Loughlin
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