New Zealand Takes the Flor
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 wine to develop under a yeasty veil (known as voile in French) since the 2010 harvest and it will release the wine this year.
It’s not fortified, unlike the wines of Sherry abut it will tip the scales at around the 15 percent alcohol mark, which is in the same ballpark as a Fino or Manzanilla Sherry.
The project reflects owner Guy Porter’s time in his native British wine trade, when he was surrounded by “a lot of interesting wine styles.”
However, in the New Zealand mainstream market, he doesn’t see such diversity.
“If you go out shopping at a supermarket there’s apparently a huge range but the styles of wine are actually pretty limited: fresh, fruit-driven whites and oak-dominant reds. That’s a very narrow window and there’s so much more out there,” he says. “Wines that slightly nutty or made in an oxidative style are not mainstream. These sort of ideas are not current and might be confusing to people who have not got a great deal of wine knowledge.”
The wine was fermented in old oak barrels. After the fermentation, winemakers normally ‘top-up’ barrels to prevent oxidation but Porter didn’t top them up and a layer of yeast grew, feeding on the alcohol and glycerol in the wine. The result is a dry, round and nutty-flavoured wine and it’s fair to say that this is the most interesting Pinot Gris I’ve ever had.
The wine will cost NZ$40 for a 500ml bottle and will be released later this year. Availability is very limited so if you want to get your hands on a bottle, contact the winery.