Archive for the ‘Viticulture’ Category

Can New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Age Well?

November 12, 2009

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is always thought best consumed early in its youth. For many this is true and now there is an emerging group of New Zealand wine producers whose efforts will continue to delight for several years.

A recent event in New Zealand invited John Avery to discuss and taste some past vintages of Sauvignon blanc. You can read the entire article here ………

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Christchurch/Southern New Zealand wins wine capital of the world title

October 15, 2009

Christchurch/Southern New Zealand has been selected as the New Zealand representative on the prestigious Great Wine Capitals Global Network. 

The Great Wine Capitals network, which includes as members wine regions such as Bordeaux, France and San Francisco/Napa Valley in the US, is an international network of major wine producing regions which aims to promote tourism, education and business exchange.

The Christchurch City Council-led bid to join the international network incorporates the wine growing regions of Canterbury, Waipara Valley, Marlborough and Central Otago. As the largest wine-growing region in the South Island, Marlborough took a key role in the bid.

Click here to read the rest of the announcement…..

Bio Dynamic New Zealand Wines

June 10, 2009

The Hippy Gourmet is traveling through New Zealand and has a really nice video from Seresin Estate in Marlborough. Check it out and share with others.

Wine Library TV: Gary Vaynerchuk’s daily wine video blog

June 2, 2009

Daniel Schuster from the Waipara Valley in New Zealand continues his discussion with Gary V about the delicious wines he produces in New Zealands South Island.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Wine Library TV: Gary Vaynerchuk’s da…“, posted with vodpod

Talking New Zealand Wine and More with Daniel Schuster – Part 1 – Episode #684

May 28, 2009

If you think you understand New Zealand wines, this interview with Daniel Schuster will open your eyes to both the history and what you are probably missing. Go, seek and then smile!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Vintage Update: Torlesse Wines Waipara Valley New Zealand

February 8, 2009

Dick and Vivian Pharis are co-owners of the McKenzie’s Road Vineyard in Waipara New Zealand and shareholders in Torlesse Wines. For everyone who thinks owning a vineyard is a romantic adventure take a moment and read through Dick’s note about what is happening in the vineyard right now.

Well, we (Vivian and a crew of 3 workers) have just finished crop thinning (throwing grapes on the ground) in the Gewurz, which has set profusely this year on every cane laid down. Hard work and most workers don’t understand why they are “wasting all those nice grapes”. Anyway, crop load is now (hopefully) in balance with photosynthetically useful canopy of leaves.

Same exercise was done ca. 2 weeks ago with our Pinot Noir. Our west block PN (Clone 10/5) is being set up for spur pruning this coming winter — implications are a lower crop load in 2010 [with luck, no fruit thinning needed], more upright canes next year (less 2nd set since vertical canes maintain a dominance over lateral buds. When the upright fruiting cane [or next year’s laydown fruiting cane] leans out of the vertical, that dominance over lateral buds diminishes. Once the “lean begins”, the lateral buds break out of their “arrested state” and start to grow, produce flowers and those flowers, in turn, produce 2nd set clusters of green immature fruit. 2nd set fruit competes somewhat with 1st set fruit for products of photosynthesis.

However, the main problem with 2nd set fruit is that early 2nd set that occurs in the fruiting zone “almost ripens” (and looks “beautiful” and is picked by naive pickers at ca. 18 Brix). Presence of 2nd set fruit clusters also precludes picking by machine because those big fat clusters of immature 2nd set fruit sometimes vibrate off and fall into the ripe fruit mix — 12-14 Brix, tart green berries are not a favoured flavour for Burgunday style wine.

Next chore is a opening the fruit zone a bit more in the chardonnay by light hand leaf plucking and lateral pulling/snipping (in the crotch of the vine).

Then, on to the Riesling for more fruit thinning on young plants which are obviously overcropped.

Finally, the Merlot requires a bit of hand leaf plucking and dropping of “wimpy fruiting canes” with 2 and 3 clusters but only 1 or 2 leaves!

This has been an unbelieveably good year in Waipara for fruit set on virtually all varieties.

While all this is going on, we’re running bird netting, 1st on the Pinot Noir, then the Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurz and the Chardonnay, et al, ad nauseum. 

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The birds know where the good fruit is and they love the care and attention the grapes recieve at Torlesse Wines in Waipara New Zealand.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Worlds Most Popular and Least Understood Wine

January 22, 2009

New Zealand Sauvignon blanc could be one of the world’s most popular wines and at the same time the least understood. When you pause and consider that over 85% of New Zealand’s wine producers make less than 25k cases of wine per year, yet the world is generally exposed to the production from the remaining 15%.

Granted, this 15% has done a tremendous job of marketing a singular story, the really exciting side of New Zealand is this large group of micro producers.

This group has regional diversity, winemaking styles that vary and generally a very hands on approach in their vineyards. Most are both wine growers and wine makers. In other words they can honestly be viewed as Estates.

New Zealand wine writer Michael Cooper recently wrote about this in the New Zealand Listener. His article has some interesting comments.

  • …the classic French grape variety also thrives in other regions, from Hawke’s Bay to Waipara…
  • … from Hawke’s Bay grapes and modelled on the famous dry whites of Graves, in Bordeaux, swings the spotlight on our alternative sauvignons.
  • UK wine writer Tom Cannavan argues that ‘‘the ‘typical’ New Zealand sauvignon is not a food wine, and is rarely subtle or complex … the style is becoming a caricature: aromatic fireworks and a dollop of residual sugar to balance searing acidity has become a recipe by which some churn out a ‘product’, rather than a wine”.
  • … is critical of the common practice in New Zealand of making sauvignon blanc slightly sweet, “a style where one glass is definitely enough
  • … Surely the world expects sauvignon blanc to be dry white wine. I certainly do!”

The article continues to highlight several producers who understand the difference between “fine wine and a refreshing beverage”.

This is just one of many comments I hear about the current state of New Zealand wine. Some predict New Zealand is following Australia toward the same cliff.

My sense is the world is about to discover the “little guys” scattered across New Zealand who make really nice wines, that lead to memorable evenings with friends and food.

You can read the full article on the Listeners web site. Listener

Wine Additives

December 11, 2008

I came across this post by Nick Stephens  the other day and naturally the comment about New Zealand wine caught my attention. I suspect the wine served with dinner at Nick’s would be pretty special.

The comment was:

“I also met 2 charming Antipodeans from New Zealand who were working in Bristol to whom I apologised beforehand about part of my talk re the additives in cheap New Zealand wines.

Their reply was “Please don’t apologise. It’s a well known fact back at home that the cheaper wines are produced for the masses and the locals won’t buy it – so we send it over to you!”

The additive comment reminded me of an article some months ago in the LA Times about exactly this subject. It is a pretty lengthy article and very informative to read thru. These methods are most likely used in all wine producing regions and not exclusive to New Zealand.

It is a good reminder that some wines begin in the vineyard and are finished in the lab.

Good effort by Bonny Doon to lead the way in telling us what goes in the bottle.

The  two Kiwi’s did get it right when they replied they keep the good stuff at home. Finding these New Zealand gems really is a treasure hunt. When you find them, you will know you are in a good wine shop or restaurant.

New Growing Season at Torlesse Wines

December 9, 2008
61447 Torlesse 08 Sets PRF

Now Available in USA

I just received this new vintage update from Kym Rayner winemaker at Torlesse Wines in the Waipara Valley.

Torlesse Wines is typical of many artisan handcrafted wineries in New Zealand. If you visit the winery you will be hosted by Kym, his wife Maggie or Paul Hewitt the assistant wine maker. This is pretty cool.

One of the special characteristics of Kym’s wine is the ability to improve over time in the bottle. New Zealand has yet to achieve this recognition and Kym will be one of the many winemakers who is able to show the extra effort in the vineyard pays rewards for us consumers down the road.

Kym Rayner’s Comments  on the 2009  Growing  Season

“The winter of 2008 was normal to bordering on cold with a snow fall in June that settled on the ground at the winery

Late winter rains were very heavy in July and about 3 weeks later in August resulting in flooding around the winery.

Since August, rainfall has been slight torlesse-mapand while we are happy with low rainfall, the farming community around Waipara and in fact much of the East coast of NZ is very dry. We planted some Pinot Gris in late October and have been watering since then

The other significant fact is Waipara had no frost events or no visible damage on our vineyards at least. This coupled with warm dry conditions has meant early flowering and pretty good set.

The only negative is these conditions are also ideal for powdery mildew so there are plenty of sulphur sprays going on. This is an acceptable spray from an organic/sustainable approach.

Our vineyard has been quite untidy this year as we are spraying less herbicide and leaving a wider range of ground cover to bring in more insect diversity, hopefully beneficially,  like lady birds, spiders and bees and the predator wasps.

Things are shaping up for an excellent vintage.”

Thanks Kym, for sharing and letting us know there are some good things to look forward to.

 

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Central Otago Pinot Noir

December 5, 2008

A very special place for Pinot noir

Here is some information that was prepared by Central Otago Pinot Noir Limited.

Central Otago is the southern-most grape-growing where-is-new-zealandregion in the world located at latitude 45º south (similar to both Oregon’s Willamette Valley, U.S.A., and Bordeaux in France). The first wine-grapes were planted in Central Otago in 1864. Despite the district’s potential as a wine growing area being recognised by French and Australian viticulturists from the 1860’s onwards, wine-grapes were not commercially grown again in Central Otago for more than a century. Modern day wine growing began in 1972 and shortly followed in 1975 with experimental plantings at Rippon Vineyard, Lake Wanaka. The first commercial release of a Pinot Noir from Central Otago, the regions flagship variety, was the 1987 vintage from pioneer Alan Brady at the Gibbston Valley winery.

OUR RECIPE FOR GREAT PINOT NOIR

This could be a pretty long debate, but it seems to us that there are a small number of key requirements for keeping Pinot Noir happy:

A narrow range of heat summation 

GDD’s (Growing Degree Days) are bannock-brae-estate-mapmeasured in a few different ways so numbers are hard to compare, but the way we do it, 850 – 1100 in the growing season seems to be the sweet spot for Pinot Noir. In latitude, that generally means being at about 45-47º North or 44-45º South, (the Antarctic mass makes the Southern Hemisphere a touch cooler, so the band is a little farther North there).

Large diurnal shifts

A significant variation between maximum and minimum temperatures each day. Hot days, (but not too far above 30ºC), and cool nights, develop flavour complexity. That means being a continental rather than a maritime climate, but not so far from the sea that the frosts become untenable.

A long, cool, dry autumn

Hang time seems to really improve Pinot Noir. A micro climate that gets the fruit nearly ripe, then cools off and lets it hang for a while seems to add depth to the wine. But Pinot Noir is very susceptible to Botrytis, so low humidity and low rainfall in the autumn is a big plus. 

A heavy but draining soil 

In Burgundy, the combinations of Clay and Limestone achieve this. We have heavy Loess soils interspersed with gravels. Either way, the roots have heavy soil with good minerality and low organic matter, but don’t get waterlogged.

It might seem surprising that given such a short list, there aren’t a lot more places which fit this recipe for Pinot Noir viticulture. But a quick look at the world map shows why.

To get the diurnal shifts you need to be inland from the coast, (though the Californians get them through coastal fogs) but if you are too far in from the windward coast, the shifts get too great and frosts in Spring and Autumn get too dangerous. In the Northern Hemisphere there are only 2 continental masses: go inland on each, following the prevailing winds, from 45-47 degrees, moving eastward until the climate gets continental and you arrive at The Williamette Valley in the USA and Burgundy in Europe.

Try the same exercise in the Southern hemisphere and there are similarly only 2 land masses, one is Patagonia, where it is too windy to grow grapes. The other is Central Otago.

A CLEAN ENVIRONMENT

“If I were a grape, this is where I’d want to grow up”

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

45 North and 45 South are very different worlds. In the temperate zones, global winds flow West to East round the planet. In the North that journey takes them through heavily populated and industrialised regions. In the South, there is only Central Otago and Patagonia. While well over 100 million people live between 44º and 46º North, there are less than 400,000 living in the Southern strip. This reflects in a lack of pollution and disease pressure – there is no vineyard in Central Otago within 200 kms of a traffic light!

We believe the natural health of our vines is a reflection of our isolation. It may be a bit quiet in the evening, but the grapes don’t mind that!

My Thoughts

The word is out and many now know the one word to describe wines from Central Otago is “Stunning”. In the not distant future, followers of Central Otago will come to know a wine from Bannock Burn is different from Lowburn is different from Gibbston Valley is different from Bendigo. Just as other great wine regions of the world, Central Otago is small but the wines from the sub-appellations all carry their own story. This is also true for the wines crafted from single vineyard sites to those that show the winemakers blending skills.

Finding these wines can be a treasure hunt. When you do  you can rest assured that you have a great bottle of wine in your hand. Just take a few bottles home and share some with friends. Stash a few for future enjoyment. You will be delighted for many years. How long is still to be discovered, only by putting a few away now, will you be able to participate in the future of this great region.

Read the back label – see who the importer is  – they will mostly likely have other gems from New Zealand’s diverse wine regions. The wine shops and restaurants that have these wines available should be high on your list for enjoying wines from around the world. They are gems too.

There is a great book called Vineyards on the Edge the story of Central Otago Wine. Google it and share it with a friend. Dave Cull the author will appreciate it.

PS: Don’t forget to check out the white wines too. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc are all equally impressive.