The 2023 vintage is set to be another remarkable one, regardless of a few ups and downs experienced along the way.
At the end of the 2022 season in May, we received tremendous rain showers, causing anticipation for a wet winter ahead. The opposite, however, occurred. Despite enduring somewhat higher temperatures and very little snow on the mountains, we experienced a winter rainfall of about the same level as the 2016 vintage, which is much below our average rainfall, taking into account that 2016 was in the middle of the drought.
Our groundwater levels were unusually dry during September and August, which meant we had to start strategic, supplementary irrigation earlier than we had anticipated.
It was a good growing season despite the lack of rain. Moderate temperatures allowed for well-balanced growth. There were fewer days below 20°C, but also fewer days above 31°C, making for great consistency in temperatures. The disease pressure this season was extremely low, which means we will have a healthy crop that will ripen without any difficulties.
During flowering, there was less wind than normal, resulting in a very good fruit set, ultimately resulting in compact, full grape bunches. Because of the dryer conditions, the grapes were smaller, which means the wines made from them will have a noticeable structural impact on the palate.
Our vineyards received much-needed rain in December, around 45mm, which is equal to a heavy irrigation cycle that helped to fill the canopy and produce enough foliage for ripening.
In September, we provided organic fertilizer to our vineyards, which was washed into the soil and utilized by the vines, causing a noticeable growth spurt. The result was lush, dark green canopy growth which indicates high vigour.
For our flavours to fully develop and express what we aim for, we have maintained more foliage in the bunch zones to protect the grapes from the sun, especially during the February heat.
Veraison, the transition from berry growth to berry ripening and colour, occurred very early in January, almost 10 days earlier than our long-term average, and again this period was characterized by very good climatic conditions. This together with the good flowering and fruit set, the extra December rains and concurrent balanced canopy architecture led to an abundance of choices when we were implementing our green harvesting action. We were ultimately allowed the opportunity to ‘cherry pick’ the bunches we wanted to remain to balance the vine and mature or ripen to perfection.
We anticipated harvesting a bit earlier this year as indicated by all phenological markers and indeed, we’ve started on the 18th of February in a section of the Merlot block. This makes it one of De Toren’s earliest harvests yet. With all the abundance of fortunate weather experienced thus far and a variety of options with regard to vineyard management and crop selection, the cellar team is awaiting the arrival of the remaining grapes with great anticipation… All there is left to do thereafter is to embrace the beautiful art of winemaking!