Revisiting Central Otago, New Zealand, part 4
Tim Kerruish (above) is a doctor
from the Isle of Man (UK). He and his wife came out to New Zealand
when she was doing a PhD in Dunedin (she's a biomedical ethicist),
and they bought this property in 2001. Tim still works as the
emergency room in Dunedin hospital, but he's clearly been bitten by
the wine bug. He now has 4 hectares of vineyard, all Pinot Noir, as
well as 30 sheep and an orchard. He's currently planning to plant a
bit of Chardonnay.
The existing vineyard was planted in 2003, and is at 230 m, looking
across to the Pisa range, with Mt Pisa at 1800 m providing a
beautiful backdrop. If you look left, you can see Mount Difficulty;
look to the right, and you can see the southern alps.
The wines are made by Fred Reinds at Black Ridge winery, but Tim's
plan is to put a small cellar into the basement of the home he has
on the property (used currently as a holiday home) and make the
wines himself. So you could say he's a lifestyler, but of the best
sort, where the wine quality is a total focus.
Rudi Bauer was the first to make wines in Bendigo, which has a
series of terraces, and is one of the warmer spots in Central Otago.
Following a nice summer afternoon, it's still warm here at 7 pm. The
soils are typical of Central: wind-blown loess with masses of river
gravels under a thin topsoil. There's very little organic material
in these young soils, so irrigation is essential. 'It's virtually
hydroponics,' says Tim.
What are the characteristics of Bendigo wines? 'Bendigo wines tend
to be fruit driven on the mid palate with a chocolatey thing on the
back palate,' says Tim. 'This is what I'd be looking for in a blind
tasting: a bit of mocha on the back palate.'
Winemaking involves full destemming, and a cold soak until things
start to happen. There may be an inoculation. The wines are then run
'The most profound effect we have is on crop level, reveals Tim.
For Central you need to run a pretty low yield. We do one bunch a
shoot and take the shoulders off, which gives an average yield of
3.5-4 tons/hectare. The average for Central is 6-6.5 tons hectare,
and for second or third tier wines it will be more. He adds that
some people have made single vineyard wines from his vineyard, and
have taken higher yields, but they then don't get the same degree of
concentration. We have to make the best wine we can here, otherwise
no one will buy it. This requires aggregational gains a percent
here, a percent there. This is why we are thinking about bringing
the winemaking on site.
With Pinot, you get what you get, and this is what makes it
Can the region get enough traction so there's enough support for
people making interesting wines, before they run out of money or
enthusiasm? Tim thinks that the real sustainability in Central Otago
is whether people can keep their operations going.
I tried verticals of the regular Pinot Noir and also the Orchard
Block, a special part of the vineyard next to some apple trees. Tim
doesn't know why it's special, but it does seem to be of particular
interest. Production of both wines is 600 cases in total.
Tim gave me a summary of the recent vintages. When you have a small
vineyard like this you really get the vintage variation, which I
enjoy, he says.
2012 lots of excitement about this vintage, the wines have an
2011 An interesting vintage. It didn't stop raining, which is rare
here. We were picking grapes in grass that came up to our knees.
There was a lot of rot through the region. We didn't have the luxury
of letting fruit hang out so we picked a little earlier, by a week
or 10 days.
2010 a lot of tannic structure across the region. A run of cold
fronts came through in February with ridiculous temperature
variations- 35 C one day and a high of 10 C the next. This put
stress on the vines and increased tannins in the grapes.
2009 an important vintage for us: we got a gold in the Air New
Zealand show. We don't do shows any more.
2008 not a highly regarded vintage down here. Nice uneventful
season with biggish berries and bunches. I have always liked the
2007 seemed to be going well until we started to pick, when it
rained, and then this happened again. It was a late harvest, on May
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2012 Central Otago, New Zealand
'There's lots of excitement about 2012,' says
Tim. 'The wines have an immediacy.' Lovely silky elegance to the
fresh cherry and plum fruit. Nice purity and focus. Some structure,
some minerality and a bit of savouriness. Great balance with ripe
but fresh red cherry fruit. 95/100
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2011 Central Otago, New Zealand
Lively and bright; fresh and focused. With a
subtly sappy green note and bright spiciness. Bright, very
drinkable, yet tight and structured with juiciness. 92/100
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New Zealand
Sweet, warm, ripe cherry and plum fruit nose. The palate is
concentrated and dense with nice grippy tannins melding well with
the sweet ripe cherry and plum fruit. Dense and quite structured,
showing lovely silkiness. Will take some time to peak. 95/100
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand
Sweet, ripe, seamless nose with hints of warm spices and
attractive florality alongside the rich, slightly balsamic/soy
notes. Rich, ripe, bold palate is subtly meaty with nice spiciness
and ripe fruit. A ripe style but with nice brightness, good texture
and a mineral edge. 94/100
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
Supple, pure and fresh with attractive black cherry and plum
fruit. Smooth with fine texture. Still youthful and direct with a
bit of bright spiciness, as well as some tingly acidity on the
finish. A pretty, harmonious wine. 92/100
Folding Hill Pinot Noir 2007 Central Otago, New Zealand
Sweet, ripe and perfumed with subtle meaty sweetness under the
fine dried herb and cherry notes. Lovely fresh palate is pure, fine
and a little lighter than other vintages of this wine. Elegant and
detailed with nice tea and dried herb notes, Pure, fine, silky and
Folding Hill Orchard Block Pinot Noir 2011 Central Otago, New
Fine and subtly expressive. Precise with amazing detail and
precision. Light but concentrated with a fine spiciness. Real
elegance and some structure. Quite mineral: an amazing wine that's
not a blockbuster but just deliciously detailed. 95/100
Folding Hill Orchard Block Pinot Noir 2010 Central Otago, New
Fresh, ripe, fine nose with some spiciness and minerality, as well
as a subtle hint of ginger. There's an appealing mineral edge to the
palate with nice grippiness and a hint of spiciness. Fresh with
dried herb complexity. 94/100
Folding Hill Orchard Block Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New
Beautifully expressive and perfumed with aromas of floral black
cherries and herbs. So detailed with sweet fruit and also a complex
mineral, spicy character. Some warmth and richness but also amazing
detail and elegance. 95/100
VISITING CENTRAL OTAGO
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