The wines of Sherry and Jura are known for developing under flor – a film-like yeast that protects the wine from oxygen – and now a New Zealand producer is set to launch its first wine aged under flor.
Bellbird Spring in Waipara, an hour’s drive north of Christchurch, has been allowing a Pinot Gris-based …
Think New Zealand red, think Pinot Noir but there’s more to New Zealand red wine than one variety: some of the best reds I’ve reviewed over the past 12 months reflect New Zealand’s ability to produce classy Bordeaux styles as well as sexy Syrah, particularly in the warmer climes of Hawke’s Bay.
When it comes to …
2014 was an unusual year for reviewing wines. Being pregnant for the first half of the year and then having a mini person to feed meant large scale tastings were off the cards. However, I’ve still managed to get through a heck of a lot of delicious – and a lot of why did they …
2013 has been the year for Central Otago to shine, showing off the excellent 2010 vintage in the early part of the year followed by a showing of the 2012 new release Pinots.
Many red wine producers are currently selling the 2011 vintage, which is certainly not going to go down as vintage of the century. …
There’s no escaping Burgundy when you’re at a Pinot Noir conference. The French region makes the world’s finest examples that most of us can’t afford unless we forego several mortgage payments. It’s inevitable that any Pinot Noir producer would like to achieve the heady heights in terms of quality.
This is benchmarking – the process of determining who is the very best, who sets the standard, and what that standard is. Any ambitious producer in any industry – wine or not – is right to do this because to live in a world where there is no context is to be drifting aimlessly on a sea of bulk wine.
Yet there has become an aversion to comparing Pinots from New Zealand and elsewhere to Burgundy.
Ted Lemon of Littorai Wines in Sonoma and Burn Cottage in Central Otago made it clear that he thought comparisons to Burgundy were unhealthy for New World producers in a speech at the Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Noir conference two weeks ago.
“Look inward,” he said. “Do not measure all things against the Old World. And above all do not see Burgundy as a measuring stick. We must be like Odysseus, lashing ourselves to the mast of the ship in order to resist the siren song of the maidens of Burgundy.”
I agree with Ted that New World producers should not set out to make a Burgundy-like wine if they’re in New Zealand, Australia or Oregon.
Yes, it should be about getting to know your land better and the wines it produces but for those of in the world of communication and education, it’s another matter.
I compared the wines of the Omihi subregion of Waipara to Pommard at Pinot 2013 and it was as if I had talked about Lord Voldemort at Hogwarts. Tumbleweed moment. I make no apology for it. It provided context. These wines are powerful, dense and meaty and when you compare them to Pommard, those not familiar with the wines of Omihi (which are a fairly sizeable group) gain an immediate sense of style.
I agree that wine producers and wine writers should not put Burgundy on a pedestal – let’s face it, the region makes a lot of crap. Take a 10 euro prix fixe lunch at a restaurant in Beaune and you’ll be able to taste wines that aren’t worthy of salad dressing.
I agree that New Zealand Pinot Noir cannot be anything else but New Zealand Pinot Noir – just like Oregon, the Mornington Peninsula and friends. They’re recognizable, inimitable and can be bloody good. But for those of us trying to describe what the wines are like to a wine savvy audience that needs a benchmark, I’m afraid the region-that-shall-not-be-named is the best benchmark we have for the foreseeable future.
In time, we’ll be able to kick those comparisons to the kerb but we are not there yet.
I’m looking forward to that day and thankfully it doesn’t seem too far away for Kiwis. The New Zealand wine industry’s growing maturity was evident at the Wellington Pinot conference in January. There’s a burgeoning sense of self and an attitude that says “This is who we are, this is what we do, and if you don’t like it, plenty of other people do.” There’s a confidence and a pride that has emerged, which wasn’t in evidence at the last Pinot conference in 2010. Long may it continue.
Waipara winery Muddy Water has been sold for an undisclosed sum to fellow Waipara producer Greystone.
Jane East, co-owner of Muddy Water told rebeccagibb.com: “The reality is that our children do not want to go into the wine business so we didn’t have a line of succession.”
Greystone was looking to build a winery and after initial talks with the Easts decided to make an offer.
Muddy Water is certified organic and Greystone’s Angela Clifford confirmed it would remain organic and separate to the non-organic Greystone brand.
It is unclear if there will be any job losses at this stage with overlaps between the two producers inevitable but East indicated “most of the staff will be staying on”.
It’s an interesting time to be expanding after the February 22 earthquake devastated Waipara’s main, and most profitable, market. Its loss of the Rugby World Cup games will also have a significant impact on winery visitor numbers.
Yet this is a positive move by Greystone in a difficult period. This acquisition could be a sign of things to come in the industry: are the banks now more willing to lend money to wineries to expand and go on the acquisition trail?