New Zealand, day 1: Burn Cottage and Two Paddocks, Central Otago

burn cottage Ted Lemon

Two more visits on the first day in Central Otago. Burn Cottage is an interesting project. It was started by American Marquis (pronounced Marcus) Sauvage, and he hired a stellar team of Ted Lemon (consultant) and Claire Mulholland (winemaker) to oversee it. It’s a 27 hectare property with 10.2 hectares of vines, on the border of Lowburn towards Bannockburn.

Ted explained that how they’d underestimated the influence of the wind here: it’s almost always negative, and so they have spent a lot of time and money establishing shelter belts. We also met with Shane Livingstone, the vineyard manager. From the outset, this site has been managed biodynamically. ‘We were ridiculed by a lot of people in Central Otago at the time,’ says Ted. But now Burn Cottage has a great reputation for its Pinot Noir.


We tried a range of the wines that have been released so far. The 2014 Moonlight Race is a new regional blend from three different vineyards, and it’s direct and delicious. Of the Burn Cottage Pinots, 2014 had a slight edge over 2013 and 2012, both of which were very good.


There’s a new wine: the Riesling/Gruner Veltliner, first produced in 2014. This is quite an impressive textured white with some peppery notes alongside the pear fruit, and it’s lovely.


The evening visit was Two Paddocks, with general manager Jacqui Murphy. This is actor Sam Neill’s project. Rob Hay recommended a block to plant in 1993, and Sam bought it. His colleague Roger Donaldson bought one next door – hence the name Two Paddocks. Roger fell out of love with viticulture fairly quickly, but Sam’s passion grew, and in 1998 he bought the Last Chance vineyard in Alexandra, followed by the Redbank vineyard (Alexandra) in 2000. The latest acquisition has been the old Desert Heart vineyard in Bannockburn in 2014. This has been relabelled the Fusilier vineyard.


I was very impressed by the Two Paddocks Riesling 2014 from the Red Bank vineyard. Not much is made, but it’s a stylish, textural dry wine.


Of the Pinots, the trio of 2013 Last Chance, 2014 The Fusilier, and 2013 First Paddock are all exceptional. These are all lovely, expressive wines, made by Dean Shaw at the Central Otago Wine Company, the important contract winemaking operation of which Sam is a shareholder. Currently, Two Paddocks is the only Central Otago winery making wine from all three major subdistricts: Gibbston, Alexandra and Cromwell Basin.

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