...the last flight I tasted was very obviously from New Zealand. "Direct, very youthful and urgent. No smudginess. Bright crimson colours and sharp fruit" was my summary. New Zealand has earned itself a fine reputation for the consistency of its Pinot Noir, but I was a little disappointed by this (extensive, 18-strong) flight overall. Bright and breezy, the wines were rarely subtle, even though there were representatives from the Kiwi aristocracy, such as Ata Rangi, Dog Point, Fromm and Felton Road. Prices were fair, though, and alcohol levels not as high as the Amnerican Pinots, even if they were higher on average than our (relatively expensive) Australian Pinots, which , thanks to a few outstanding wines, notched up a higher average score from me than their Kiwi counterparts.
Small steps reap big rewards. True artisans are always looking for the next big challenge. That's the story of New Zealand's dynamic duo, Ivan Sutherland and James Healy. After cutting their teeth at the iconic Cloudy Bay as lead viticulturalist and winemaker, respectively, the pair were inspired to seek out other exciting expressions of Marlborough and start their own boutique winery. They looked to Sutherland's own vineyards, with some of the region's oldest vines (planted in the 1970's and 80's), and saw potential for something great. Their approach centres on artisanal techniques to highlight the purity of the fruit. They insist on hand-picking in the vineyard, never mind that "some people say we're crazy for hand-picking Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc," as Ivan bemusedly puts it. the vineyard is tended organically, using compost to strengthen the soil. They've also got a hands-on (hoofs-on?) approach to avoiding herbicides, allowing sheep to graze in the vineyards and remove weeds the old-fashioned way. And the label design? The tree pictured there is a cabbage tree, a common sight in the Dog Point region and a nod to the wine's birthplace.