Winemaker’s Comment – Spring 2013

A busy winter of travel to many of our markets has come to a close for Nigel and I.  It is a real treat to hang up the travel clothes, stick some shorts on and see the vines bursting into leaf, both signifying the start of another growing season. I have visited too many unique places, experienced too many great restaurants, enjoyed so much great company and so many fun wine dinners to even begin listing the highlights. I can say that it is immensely satisfying and also humbling to be able to tour the world showcasing our wines, telling the stories and representing our little winery from Bannockburn, New Zealand.

We’re pleased to be releasing the seventh vintage of Calvert Pinot Noir. Earlier this year, Owen Calvert gave us the opportunity to purchase just over half of his Pinot Noir vineyards. After farming the property exclusively for the last 12 years and having developed a deep understanding of the potential that this site has to make classic and elegantly framed Pinot Noirs, it was a prospect that we just couldn’t pass up. The parcel we purchased consists of the three blocks (Willows, Aurum and Springs) which we designed and planted to our own specifications back in 2001. The recent glowing reviews we received from Bob Campbell MW and James Halliday – printed overleaf, are testament to the ability of this site to demonstrate a distinct and highly desirable expression of place. Prominent wine critic Matthew Jukes once described Calvert as, “possibly New Zealand’s first Pinot Noir Grand Cru vineyard”. A big call, and if there were to be a list there would be many other candidates, but it does have a purity of expression; a sort of less is more factor that is the hallmark of a great place.

Adjacent to Calvert, Gareth is busy ramming hundreds of vineyard trellis posts, getting ready for the final planting of the five hectare MacMuir vineyard to Pinot Noir this spring (Muir is a family name of Nigel’s).  This was originally part of the Calvert property, a nut orchard and pasture – again land that we are very familiar with. Don’t expect to see a MacMuir single vineyard wine anytime soon: this vineyard is very much a long term project; part research, part security for the future. In the meantime, we will be selling the grapes so as to not dilute the Bannockburn Pinot Noir with young vine fruit. Now that our other Pinot Noir vineyards are at least 10 years old, we are really starting to enjoy the increased complexity and harmony that the ageing vines are contributing.  Once the MacMuir vineyard matures and should quality permit, we may be able to use the fruit for the Bannockburn Pinot Noir if Mother Nature delivers the cruel blow of small crops.

We hope we can persuade you to join us for the 2014 Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration to be held in Queenstown from January 30 to February  1. It will be our 10th Celebration and we are especially pleased to have attending Aubert de Villaine from Burgundy’s (if not the world’s) most famous wine estate: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.  English wine publication Decanter, awarded Aubert de Villaine the “Man of the Year” award in 2010; a title bestowed not just for his achievements at the Domaine, but “his complete integrity and his willingness to involve himself in the wider community.” Nigel and I bumped into Aubert at a concert at the Chateau de Meursault where it was plain to see his very humbling interest, understanding and appreciation of our efforts with Pinot Noir in Central Otago. Tickets will sell quickly so please visit for more detail.


Blair Walter