The grapes for Brancott Vineyards Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc are harvested predominantly from the company`s main vineyard in the area, Brancott Estate. Located on the south eastern side of the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, Brancott Estate is in a small side valley facing north, which receives maximum sunshine. The soils of the vineyard are derived from glacial outwash material and can generally be described as silt loam overlying gravels and rocks. These soils are low in fertility and have a low water holding capacity.
Grapes are also sourced from Squire Estate and other Wairau Vineyards. These vineyards located on the other side of the valley, close to the Wairau River and are protected by mountain ranges to the north and west, and by Kaikoura Mountains to the south.
The 2002/03 growing season had a weak El Nino weather pattern dominating the season, bringing mainly dry conditions.
Budburst was average. Cooler than average temperatures persisted through October and November. The cool, dry conditions affected fruit set, reducing yield potential. While this has resulted in good flavour concentration, the yields of Sauvignon Blanc in particular have been reduced over what was expected. Slightly cooler than average, though dry conditions, in the pre-harvest and harvest months of March - April meant that the grapes fully ripened with very little disease pressure.
Rainfall over the critical pre-harvest and harvest months of February and March was well below the long term average. The cool conditions may have helped to offset potential moisture stress.
Fruit was harvested at the same time as last year despite the cooler season because of the reduced crop loads. The extended, cool-ripening period has allowed excellent development of varietal character in aromatic varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc.
The grapes were harvested from mid March to early April 2003 at 21.0-22.0º Brix, then crushed and left in contact with the skins for a few hours to increase the extraction process and to provide strength and fullness of flavor.
The free-run juice was then drained and fermented slowly at cool temperatures to retain the very distinctive regional and varietal characters.