It is a universal sentiment, isn't it? December already? Time has flown! Here is a snapshot of the highlights from this whirlwind of a year.
Friendship & Fine Wines: Renato Joins the fun as our Swiss importer!
Renato Martellosio's visit was a game-changer! Our dear friend spent a few weeks with us, discovering our wines and embracing our ethos, ultimately deciding to become our Swiss importer. What more could we ask for from a friend?
Embarked on the MS Europa 2 for a floating work stint!
Amidst the peak season rush, we committed to a swift two-night voyage along the scenic South Island. Our mission? To showcase our estate and introduce the ship's guests to our exceptional wines. A whirlwind voyage with a sip of adventure!
Sydney Sips: A Week of Wine Work and Wonderful Cuisine
We spent a few days working in Sydney alongside our importer, World Wine Estate, and their stellar team, led by the ever-inspiring James Johnston. The week was incredibly fulfilling, brimming with rewarding tasks and evenings filled with delightful dinners at some of the city's most fantastic restaurants.
The 3rd Disgorgement of our Cuvee Therese Vintage 2016
The release of our 2004 Cuvee Therese marked a departure from conventional Sparkling’s and Champagne’s. Tired of the abundance of high-acidity wines with hefty sugar content, we embarked on a quest for riper fruit, boasting beautiful berry flavours with inherent concentration and complexity. Crafting the vintage 2016 began with carefully selected high-quality grapes, gently crushed and destemmed, followed by a brief cold maceration. The juice then underwent wild fermentation and matured in 500L French oak puncheons, resting on fine lees for 10 months. For secondary fermentation, the wine was bottled with a 'liqueur de tirage', a blend of yeast, wine, and minimal sugar (opting for a dry Sparkling). Maturing on lees within the bottle spanned a long seven years, well beyond the minimum required for Vintage Champagne. After the 'remuage' (ridling) process, a modest sugar dosage in the 'liqueur d’expedition' post-disgorgement culminated in a product delivering unparalleled quality and an exceptional drinking experience.
Sailing, Sipping, Storytelling: another adventure on the MSEuropa
Our voyage on the MSEuropa was a whirlwind! Just before the vintage season kicked off, we embarked on this cruise for a brief two-night work trip. The ship's guests were a joy; they not only indulged in our wine tasting sessions but also eagerly soaked in stories about our life in New Zealand, all while savouring our wines in the most delightful way possible!
Vintage Kick-Off: Harvest begins with Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc!
As we launch into picking our Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and a batch of Sauvignon Blanc starting Friday, March 24, the real camaraderie starts to flow. Some mornings, our squad, comprising friends, neighbors, and hospo fans, transforms into a spirited family. Loads of mouthwatering Merino lamb shoulder prepped for our post-picking fiesta! I had to pull out all the culinary stops, enticing our volunteer picking team back for another round with the promise of another epic lunch whilst Hans would open some epic wines. A very powerful motivator😉.
Vintage Hustle: A Momentary Birthday Pause
Celebrating Hans's birthday during the bustling vintage season is always a challenge, but we managed a brief respite. It was a casual yet cherished affair—just his dedicated vintage crew, a handful of close friends, and yours truly cooking up a storm. In the midst of the vintage rush, we paused to savor good food, laughter, and a few exceptional international wines. A fleeting moment of celebration amidst the whirlwind of vintage!
Vintage's 2023 last bell ring
As the last grape finds its cozy spot in the barrel, vintage bids adieu with a symphony of clinks and laughs. Behold the iconic Alsace bell swinging from the winery's ceiling! This bell is the unofficial official emcee of grand moments, and trust me, it's no wallflower. From the inaugural grape-picking kickoff to the final triumphant chorus of wines settling in their oak abodes, Hans orchestrates the perfect ring-a-ling. Vintage's grand finale, captured in the charm of a centuries-old bell, as it heralds the farewell to yet another remarkable season!
End of vintage Fiesta!
The culmination of a bustling vintage season ends with a grand finale, a Vintage Party Extravaganza! All hands on deck who contributed to the grape-picking frenzy were summoned to join the festivities. The centerpiece? A magnificent Paella feast fit for the champions of the vineyards, paired exquisitely with an overflowing cascade of our finest wines.
Amidst the jubilant air, sweet treats lovingly provided by our cheerful comrades adorned the table, transforming the feast into a dessert wonderland. As the sun traversed the sky, the gathering stretched into a leisurely, laughter-laden marathon of tales and cheer. It wasn’t just a lunch; it was a celebration of hard work, camaraderie, and the shared joy of a successful vintage!
As May arrives, a serene calm blankets the vineyard, drenched in its golden glow. The frenzied hustle of the past months surrenders to a gentler rhythm, promising days of respite and more tranquility ahead.
Raising a glass to Sauvignon Blanc Day and our newest release, the Sauvignon Blanc 2019! This elegant blend, reminiscent of a white Bordeaux, is a testament to our year's highlights. The combination of Sauvignon Blanc for its vibrant aromatics and Semillon for its luxurious texture captures the essence of our winemaking journey. Offering an explosively rich yet bone-dry profile, it embodies both grace and sophistication. Our unique gravelly soils lend an intense mineral quality, harmonizing beautifully with exotic fruit aromas. Delicate notes of ripe candied peel and peaches welcome the senses, while the oak's integration brings a creamy texture from its extended lees contact. Its enduring finish leaves a refreshing, weighty sensation that lingers with remarkable vigor from start to finish.
Another vibrant day in Auckland!
We absolutely love being hands-on with our main market and the fantastic restaurant partners who bring our wines to life on their menus. We are deeply committed to supporting our restaurant customers, these connections mean the world to us. And sharing a moment with Nic Watt, a chef extraordinaire and a fantastic personality, truly added a sparkle to our day!
Weeks of pruning the vines
Pruning season is in full swing, and here's a snapshot of Hans hard at work, mulching the pruned vines back into the vineyard soil. Every step counts in nurturing our vineyard's health and vitality.
Timeless Tastemakers: A Tribute to Stan and Jan
Taking a moment to cherish the visit of Stan and Jan, our most seasoned patrons and friends of both taste and time. They were among our earliest private customers, with a profound appreciation for our Bordeaux blend ‘The spirit of Marlborough’. Stan boasts a cellar housing every vintage we've crafted. For his 90th birthday, his son gifted him a stay at our vineyard cottage. Stan is a beacon of wisdom and continues to savour the finest sips of life.
Celebrating the awaited release of our Pinot Noir 2018 with a touch of hands-on dedication! Here's a snapshot of Maria and me meticulously cleaning the bottles before the labeling process begins.
The Pinot Noir 2018 is another vintage and true testament to Hans' lifelong kinship with this noble grape. For Hans, crafting Pinot Noir is more than winemaking; it's a story unfolding through time, weaving the essence of place and his journey with this cherished variety. Our estate vineyard, blessed with dry climates and cool nights, nurtures these precious grapes, embodying the epitome of Hans' low-yield, meticulous vineyard care. From careful cold maceration to a wild yeast fermentation in French oak barriques, every step is a labour of love. Untouched by fining or filtering, they present pure, unadulterated flavours. Join us in savouring the tantalizing aromas and captivating flavours of these exceptional Pinot Noirs - wines that encapsulate a lifetime of dedication and passion.
Time to say goodbye.
Farewell marks the end of an era as Maria, our cherished companion for over 5 years, bids adieu and heads back to the UK. Though it's a somber moment bidding her goodbye, we're elated that she continues to be a remarkable ambassador for us in the UK.
As the vineyard settles into its dormant state after meticulous pruning, the season invites us to embark on journeys beyond the vines. The vineyard is pruned and dormant. Time for travels.
Bolgheri Adventures: Exploring Super Tuscan
Holidaying with Hans always leads us to exciting wine regions, and this time, we ventured to the epic wineries of Bolgheri, especially meaningful since we released New Zealand's first Super Tuscan, our Grandezza 2019. A dear friend organized a memorable trip, and one highlight was a private visit to the brand-new cellar of Antinori's Gaudo al Tasso. The private tour of the state-of-the-art cellar at Antinori's Gaudo al Tasso with a private lunch in their stately Medici villa, a truly incredible experience.
Exploring the renowned Fontodi winery in the heart of Chianti was a truly intimate experience. Federico Manetti, our esteemed colleague, shares our philosophy of organic winegrowing and prioritizing quality over quantity, making this visit extra special. Federico treated us to a delightful lunch sourced from his own gardens; the flavour of the freshly plucked tomatoes still lingers in our dreams. His wines are nothing short of fantastic, resonating with the same organic ethos that we both champion in our winegrowing endeavors.
Switzerland – Friendship and Wine
Sonja and Renato making sure everything's perfectly organized with a keen eye.
The tasting event held at Renato and Sonja's breathtaking home in our old home country was an immensely special moment. It was an overwhelming success, with a turnout of many visitors, both old friends and loyal customers, alongside new faces. Renato and Sonj were the epitome of perfect hosts, and their stunning setting overlooking Lake Zurich on a splendid summer day served as the perfect backdrop for an extraordinary wine tasting featuring our wines.
Amidst the whirlwind of London's demanding schedule, we delved into an array of engaging work. The days were filled with captivating tastings, starting with a memorable session with the sommeliers at the esteemed Pall Mall 67, offering a unique tasting experience. A visit to Caviste was equally rewarding, engaging with their incredibly knowledgeable team. Another highlight, was a special rendezvous at New Zealand’s High Commission with Peter Richards for an engaging podcast. Amidst this flurry, we managed to carve out time for a culinary treat, an indulgent lunch at one of Ottolenghi's iconic restaurants. His flavoursome creations always add a touch of magic to our busy excursions.
September breathes new life into both our estate and vineyard. The first shoots signaling budburst are a vivid celebration of nature's revival. It's a time when we open the doors to our estate, welcoming eager wine enthusiasts to experience the unfolding magic of the vineyard. Our Estate becomes a hub for guests from around the world, seeking to explore our wines and immerse themselves in the essence of our artisan wines.
Alongside nurturing the vineyard, we've ventured into engaging travels within the trade, journeying to Queenstown and Auckland. These trips have been more than tastings and seminars; they've been avenues to share our passion, connect with fellow enthusiasts, and build lasting relationships within the industry. As September blossoms, both our estate and connections flourish.
October marks the peak of activity in our vineyard as spring brings forth vibrant growth. Our days are filled with the work of shoot thinning, wire lifting, mulching, and meticulous under-vine weeding. Amidst this bustling season, we made a trip to Auckland for our distributor's wine show to showcase our wines and connect with wine enthusiasts. In the midst of our hectic schedule, we managed to carve out a moment for a quiet celebration for Therese's birthday.
Meanwhile, our estate bustles with the delightful energy of visitors from around the globe seeking unique wine experiences. Week by week, our vineyard becomes a magnet for wine lovers eager to immerse themselves in our wines and the essence of our estate.
November maintains the bustling energy across our estate. Our venture to Napier for a captivating winemaker dinner at Bistronomy was truly rewarding and delightful. Alongside the charismatic Daniel Kemp, our longstanding distributor, we closely collaborated with the trade in Hawkes Bay, hosting tastings for both familiar and new wine enthusiasts. Back at the estate, our days have been filled with packing export orders, all while ensuring our vineyard gets the nurturing attention it deserves.
Amidst the bustling estate activities, welcoming visitors from across the globe, Therese orchestrates a High-Country trip for her "Not So Serious Book Club," enjoyed with partners. The captivating New Zealand landscape never fails to mesmerize. Meanwhile, the vines have flourished considerably in this short span, prompting the last wire of the canopy to be raised. Soon, it will be time to trim the canopy. The heartwarming feedback from our visitors has been truly touching. This season’s first Vintner's Lunch, where Therese & Hans took the lead in cooking for our valued customers, was a delightful affair, offering delectable food paired with exquisite wines and engaging discussions. Meanwhile, Hans has been diligently working in the vineyard, including under-vine weeding with the line trimmer. In no time, the holiday season will be upon us.