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2020 – A Vintage that Weathered the Virus at Nautilus Estate

- 18th February 2021 - 


Nautilus Estate’s winemaker for over twenty-one years, Clive Jones, who has made every vintage at nautilus estate since 1998, believes this 2020 vintage ranks along with the best he has experienced.

Clive reports that the 2020 harvest will be remembered as ‘unusual’ given the measures and practices which had to be instigated to ensure all the Nautilus team remained safe from the COVID-19 virus. However, whilst the vintage was challenging to enjoy in the moment, now as the wines are being prepared for bottling, Clive and his team are starting to appreciate the wines for how good they really are. Importantly, putting aside the operational pressures brought on by the virus, the weather over harvest was near perfect.

After soil moisture levels were charged by rains in November & December there came a period of delightfully warm and dry weather in January and February. 

These ideal conditions during this all-important ripening period ensured great flavour development throughout all varieties. The clear, dry weather continued through March and April, culminating in beautifully pristine fruit, which Clive says is amongst the best he has seen in his tenure.

Harvest started early in mid-February. The first handpicked fruit at Nautilus was Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which was destined for the multi Trophy awarded Nautilus Cuvee Marlborough Brut NV. Excitedly this wine celebrates its 30th triage (blend) this year. Part of this initial Pinot Noir was also allocated for the delicious Nautilus Vintage Rose Brut 2019. These wines are made in the traditional way, whereby, like Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. This, along with extended maturation, generates a complex, brioche like aroma and that fine stream of bubbles that we look for, in great New Zealand sparkling wine.

The Nautilus 2020 harvest continued at a steady pace, in glorious Autumn weather. In recent years, Nautilus has added Albarino, with its origins in Galicia, northwest Spain, to its range of white wines. This classic, crisp, fruity but dry aromatic white wine, complements Nautilus Estate’s established varieties of Pinot Gris, barrel fermented Chardonnay and of course, Sauvignon Blanc.

Pinot Noir is the only red wine made at Nautilus Estate. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the infant 2020 wines were transferred very delicately into small French oak barriques, where they will rest undisturbed, until blending early in the new year.

The aromatic white wines and Sauvignon Blancs from the excellent 2020 vintage will start to appear in wine stores and restaurants across New Zealand, in a few months’ time, as will the 2019 Nautilus Chardonnay. The Pinot Noirs take longer to mature in barrel and in bottle but rest assured, patience will be well rewarded, when they emerge from their slumbers, in the tranquil, quiet cellars at Nautilus Estate of Marlborough.

Crafting wines that match beautifully with great local and international cuisine, is a driving force for master craftsman Clive Jones. A stellar vintage is always welcome but takes on special significance, when like Nautilus Estate, you export your wines to over forty countries, for discerning wine lovers and enthusiasts to enjoy in the top hotels and restaurants of the world.