Posts Tagged ‘allan johnston’

Wines and Vines of Central Otago in New Zealand

May 21, 2009

Allan Johnston and Chris Cozens have done an outstanding job of sharing the magic of Central Otago. To enjoy this video pour a glass of wine,  sit back and connect with Central. And then share with your friends.

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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.

September 25, 2008

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

What Do You See? 

Here is New Zealand photographer Allan Johnston’s philosophy that guides his eye when creating the stunning images of New Zealand wine country. Below is a comment from an earlier post:

  • – “I have used the natural and man-made lines in the landscape to draw your eyes into the photograph and lead you somewhere, such as a road or row of vines. What you see beyond the lines, nobody knows, as we all see something different, to take away a different piece of my world and what I see.”  Allan Johnston

It is interesting to listen to people I have met over the last few years selling New Zealand wine. It’s true everyone sees something different.

One told the story of visiting an old world winery and how their guide was so excited to show them the new lab. I guess when your winery looks a bit like a small oil refinery, the lab is pretty important. These certainly exist in all wine regions.

At the next stop it was all about the vines, this one is easy to understand. They drink their own wine.

Another compared the challenges a parent would have sharing time with a small family versus a large one and suggesting the more vines the more diluted the care.

While traveling after lunch one day to a hillside vineyard in Waipara Valley I saw something myself. While I remember the calmness of this location, it was this comment by Vivian Pharis of Torlesse Wines, that really caught my attention:

  • – “by the time these grapes are harvested, each vine will have been touched by human hands at least five times during this vintage”

Photo Dick Pharis Torlesse Wines

That’s a lot of love going into the grapes, imagine the wine!

Some one else might see real estate play.

Potential to go on and on is real.

Allan is right, we all see something different and that is why evenings with wine, food and friends are so enjoyable. Everyday we have the opportunity to experience something special. We just have to stop and look.

What do you see?

Allan Johnston’s Photo Exhibit

September 8, 2008

Here is a little news from Allan’s Johnston about his upcoming  photo exhibition at Amisfield winery. 

  • – 15 Sep 08 Amisfield Winery Exhibition of Central Otago Vineyards for CureKids 

“We all have a voice, however, we use it in different ways to convey a message. I’ve found my voice via a lens. For me the best way to communicate a message or tell a story to the masses, is with the camera.  

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008

This body of work and exhibition is not just about promoting Central Otagos wine and vineyards industry. It’s about helping CureKids raise money to prevent life treating sicknesses.  

As an artist, this exhibition is to embrace the simplicity that we find in the natural lines of the Otago landscape and the way we see it.  

Simplicity, can be a hard thing to achieve at times and every where we look we see lines, whether it be a road running though a vista or a row of vines. Let your eyes flow through and be lead by the simplicity of lines in the images in this exhibition.  

I have used the natural and man-made lines in the landscape to draw your eyes into the photograph and lead you somewhere, such as a road or row of vines. What you see beyond the lines, nobody knows, as we all see something different, to take away a different piece of my world and what I see.”  

Thank you to all the sponsors:  

 

Amisfield             

ArtBay                

Alpine Choppers  

TradeScans  — www.tradescans@clear.net.nz

Kelp Design        

Nikon NZ  

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

“Make life an adventure”

Sir Ed Hillary