What’s News

15 Jun

Deep Down – Organic Update & Vintage 2023 Harvest Report

By: Justine Teal Categories: Stock Updates, Wines, Organic

You Can Trust The Word “Organic”

In New Zealand, there has been a very positive development for the organic sector – the final passage of the Organic Products and Production Act was put through Parliament in late March. The government’s approval of this law in an important official recognition of organic production.

Until this bill was passed, New Zealand was one of only 2 countries that didn’t have an official standard for organic production. What this has meant for the organic producers of New Zealand is that there has been no protection over the term “organic,” and the in effect anyone could use this word to claim they were organic, even if they weren’t certified. Having a legal definition of the term “organic” will ensure the trustworthiness of organic products, and it will give organic producers, like Deep Down, a stronger platform to shout about what they do. Going forward, in order to use the word “organic” on a product, that product will have to be officially certified in order to do so. To back up this new requirement, a New Zealand Organic logo will also be created, so that customers can trust the word “organic.”

Not having their own standard has also made exporting New Zealand organic products extremely difficult, with their producers having to comply with the organic requirements of the destination country. The creation of this standard will also strengthen the exporting position of New Zealand certified products in international markets.

In his role as Chair of Organic Winegrowers New Zealand, Clive of Deep Down has been centrally involved in the development of this process. He sits on the government’s (MPI) Organics Advisory Board, which is a collection of the leaders from each organic industry. This group is important and collated to ensure that the industry can shape its own future, rather than leaving it up to government departments with little or no experience in organics.

The Deep Down team is very excited by this change in legislation and believe it will help to further drive New Zealand organic exports worldwide.

Deep Down 2023 Vintage Harvest Report

Clive and Peter at Deep Down travelled through the 2023 growing season with bated breath, nervously watching countless rain events swirl around New Zealand. Having experienced one of the wettest winters on record, it was not surprise that this weather pattern ran right through spring and into early summer.

Their first hurdle was at flowering, as a cold and wet period preceded this most important growth stage. Not ideal, but they dodged the first punch, and they escaped any major crop reduction. Their bunches set well, producing an even berry set, but with slightly reduced berry numbers per bunch. Even berry size is on of the keys to great wine, providing a consistency of fruit character and acidity in the whites, and an optimal tannin/colour relationship for Pinot Noir. In a season with high humidity, a loose bunch structure is optimal, helping to reduce disease pressure within the bunch as the season draws to a close.

The La Nina pattern continued as the sun struggled to come out over summer and the rain events continued. Next came the cyclones! Cyclone Hale hit the North Island of New Zealand at the end of January but worse was yet to come as the larger Cyclone Gabrielle arrived in mid-February. These were dramatic events for the country, with widespread flooding, damage and devastation of farms and vineyards in Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. Deep Down was incredibly fortunate in Marlborough as the Cyclones grazed their shores with heavy rain, but no damage was taken. It could have been so much worse.

Finally, the sun came out to stay over the critical weeks running up to harvest, and although it wasn’t overly hot, the rain disappeared and the grapes kicked on with their ripening superbly. Despite all the rain and humidity, the grapes were completely disease free, and the berries plumped up nicely. Happily, that was the end of the stress, and the actual harvest was relaxed as the boys of Deep Down picked pristine fruit across all varieties. Due to the classic cool-climate conditions of this season, the main picking considerations were around the grapes’ acidity, with little consideration given to the lower sugar levels they were encountering. The final two weeks of the season played out perfectly and they were able to lock in the ideal picking dates, free from any weather related stress.

Reflecting on an eventful season, Peter and Clive say they’re relieved to have made it through, and yet are delighted with the wines they have in tank and barrel. Amazingly, early thoughts are that the 2023 looks to be one of the finest they have encountered. There is a beautiful balance and relationship between the fruit ripeness, acidity and texture of all their wines, and they look forward to showing them off later in the year.

What To Drink While We Wait For The 2023 Vintage

2022 Deep Down Sauvignon Blanc
Certified Organic & Vegan Friendly

96 pts – Winestate: Full of youthful vigour, this single-vineyard, Wairau Valley wine was harvested from 23 year-old vines and handled in a 2:1 mix of stainless steel tanks and seasoned oak puncheons. Bright, light lemon/green, it is medium-bodied, with ripe, tropical fruit flavours, showing a distinct touch of complexity, and a crisp, dry, lingering finish. Best drinking mid-2023+.

2020 Deep Down Pinot Noir
Certified Organic, Vegan Friendly & Sulphur Free

Only one box left!

93 pts – Angus Hughson (Wine Pilot): When the first vintage of this wine came out it instantly aroused plenty of interest. Why? It is not just low intervention or preservative free – the only thing that goes into this wine is organically grown grapes – nothing else. It is natural fermented, and left on its skins for three weeks before running off into old large oak with no preservative addition at bottling. Nothing but grapes, so to speak. And how does it taste? Fantastic for the style and immediately complex with predominantly earth scented fruits plus dark cherry, spice and a touch of lavender too. The palate is then dry, crisp and silky, even haunting with dark fruit, spice and aged meat underpinned by supple tannins. The finish is long and spicy with a faint whiff of wintergreens right on the finish. It is a savoury little number that is sure to please plenty of pinot noir fans out there. Just try some simple Tapas here to match – let the wine do the talking.

2021 Deep Down Pinot Noir
Certified Organic, Vegan Friendly & Sulphur Free

94 points – Patrick Eckel (Wine Reviewer): A youthful red to purple in terms of colour, the nose has black cherry and plum fruit with some violets and graphite in the fold. The palate is medium bodied with a continuation of black cherry, tannins take on a black tea like character with just enough fruit derived spice to give a veneer of richness on the mid palate. There is great balance to finish with fruit, acid and oak all meshing well. An incredibly young wine in the context of how well this should age. Hold a year or two before opening your first!

2022 Deep Down Pinot Noir
Certified Organic, Vegan Friendly & Sulphur Free

Intense red. Intense red and black cherries, mixed spice and rich earthy complexities. Luscious black and red cherries mingle with 5 spice and fresh herbs. A beautifully weighted palate with gently smothering tannins and fine acidity enhancing its length. Such a gluggable yet complex natural wine that will undoubtedly treat you kindly.  Drink now with a beetroot, goats cheese and thyme tart or duck neck sausage.

Deep Down Arneis
Certified Organic & Vegan Friendly

Last Vintage!

94 points – Patrick Eckel (Wine Reviewer): A light to golden yellow in colour, the nose has a nutmeg note to apricot and raw honey. The palate has generous apricot fruit that melds with meyer lemon; texturally there is a gentle savoury pull that becomes grapefruit like on the mid palate, but is amply supported by both citrus and stone fruits. The textural grip is what defines the wines and gives a dry, almost saline note that keeps you going back for another sip. Some very clever winemaking going on here.

2021 Deep Down Chardonnay
Certified Organic & Vegan Friendly

Only three boxes left!

92 points – Patrick Eckel (Wine Reviewer): An aromatic nose of white peach with dry honey and almonds. The palate has excellent weight with stone fruits taking on some spiced and savoury influence from oak and a richness from time on lees. The faint honey note continues and is supported by worked fig before the wine finishes with an enjoyable contrast between white peach and flinty citrus notes. Drinking well now, and even better in a couple of years.


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