Marlborough’s Seresin Turns to Syrah

January 15th 2014

Oz Clarke was quoted in Marlborough’s local rag last year, telling growers to plant Syrah. Whether that was quite what he meant or his words were slightly misconstrued is up for debate but his advice is being heeded.

Biodynamic grower Seresin is getting in on the act – although I’m sure an article in the Marlborough Express was not the main factor in the decision!

Clive Dougall, the British-born winemaker, who has a penchant for dressing up as a gay cowboy during vintage, revealed that they now have a hectare of Syrah at their Raupo Creek vineyard in the southern valleys.

They’ve grafted over Gewurztraminer, which won’t be missed, quite frankly. Dougall admits he’s no fan of the lychee-flavored variety (nor me) and it’s a bloody hard sell. “It’s just one of those wines we couldn’t sell. We had way too much planted for whatever reason I don’t know but it’s become one of those wines that can block you.” What is this blocking thing, Clive?

“You can get a sommelier to fill his wine list and says ‘Seresin, great, they do a gewurz, that’ll be cool. We’ll put that on.” But he doesn’t put your Sauvignon or Pinot Noir on and you only sell three bottles a year but you’ve got a spot on his list. So you’ve missed out on the decent spot where you’re going to sell some wine and get a decent profile,” he explains. Ah, I see, that’s a pain in the arse.

Instead, they’re putting in Syrah, which isn’t that easy to sell either. Sales keep drooping like a thirsty flower. But it’ll be a novelty. At the last count, there were just 7.8 hectares of Syrah planted in Marlborough, so an extra hectare is a decent 12% increase. Clive claims that they’ll be the biggest Marlborough Syrah producer, overtaking the likes of Fromm, which is probably the region’s best-known Syrah producer.

There will be a hectare fully producing in time for the 2016 vintage. There were two rows grafted over last year “to see if it would work” and the remaining vines were grafted in November.

Getting it ripe in Marlborough’s cool climate will be the tricky bit though, won’t it? “If we have a site like we do up at Raupo on clay it’ll be delicious. I know the fruit ripeness we can get from Raupo with our Pinot [this site produces its +$100 Pinot Sun & Moon]. It’s planted right next door to a block of Viognier so I’m obviously thinking about playing with those two.” Cote-Rotie won’t quite be quaking in its boots yet but I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.

Posted in - Marlborough & New Zealand & Oz Clarke & Syrah on January 15th 2014 0 Comments

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