Pete Bartle is the winemaker at VinPro, which is one of the two most significant contract wineries in Central Otago. He currently makes some of the highest-rated wines in Central Otago. Even though VinPro are a big winery in the region, they process only 800 tons through their winery each year, which in a New Zealand context is quite small. Last vintage this was split into 105 different fermentations, and the winery, with its many small tanks, reflects this parcellation approach, with lots of different clients making wine here.
But as well as doing contract winemaking, VinPro are now launching their own wine brand, Providore. This was the reason for my visit, to talk with Pete, taste the wines, and discuss why they are taking a step that might look like a bit of a conflict of interest with their clients.
A short film introducing the brand:
Pete says that one of the reasons is that he wanted to do it: he’s been in the industry for 20 years making wine for other people. ‘This is a project for me, as well as the rest of the shareholders of Providore.’
So they have started Providore, which initially is 4000 cases, and they wanted to make a full range to got to market straight out. In 2017 they made a premium Pinot Noir from Abel clone grown in Queensbury, and in 2018 they added a Pinot Gris, a Blanc de Noir, a rosé and an early release Pinot. These were all launched together in December 2018.
They lease two vineyards in Gibbston which they manage manage themselves (9 hectares) and partner with a couple of growers in Bannockburn and Queensbury. For the labels they took a photo looking northeast from Bannockburn and had an artwork commissioned, which is then turned into a nice set of labels that share a family resemblance. They wanted to do things a bit differently in terms of marketing. ‘The market is busy with good wines,’ says Pete, ‘so we decided to use the social media route and devlop an app.’ With the app, the labels suddenly come alive. It’s cool and interactive.
‘It has been a great experience,’ says Pete. ‘We are putting ourselves in the same shoes as all our clients.’
Providore Pinot Gris 2018
100% Hand picked, Gibbston, some whole bunch, some skin contact, racked to tank taking some lees, tank fermented but also some older barrels. Bright and fruit driven with nice crisp citrus and green apple aromatics. Textural and interesting with a hint of sweetness (3.5 g/l) and nice fine spiciness. Shows generous fruit but also freshness. 92/100 ($25)
Providore Luminaire Blanc de Noir 2018
Pinot Noir from Bannockburn, Champagne press cycle then fermented in tank, finished with 2.9 g/l residual sugar. Very pale pink/yellow colour. There’s nice gentle texture here with a hint of cream and some stoniness. Lovely pear and apple fruit with a hint of redcurrant, and nice weight and balance, with a hint of sweetness. Finishes with some spicy tangerine notes. 91/100 ($25)
Providore Rosé 2018
2.1 g/l rs. 7.1 g/l acid. From the Clark Vineyard, which is the highest elevation vineyard in Gibbston. Attractive pink colour. Bright with lovely tangy cherry and raspberry fruit. Fresh with nice assertive acidity, a hint of melon and some briskness on the finish, with a bit of structure and a saline twist. Lovely stuff. 92/100 ($25)
Providore Pinot Noir 2017
Queensbury (on the way to Wanaka, not many vineyards there), 100% Abel clone. This has amazing, pretty floral notes on the nose. There’s a lovely directness and concentration on the palate with some meaty, peppery depth and lovely raspberry and black cherry fruit. Good structure. Lots and lots of sweet dark fruit here, but impeccable balance. Hints of blackcurrant and clove, too. 94/100 ($39)
Providore First Edition Pinot Noir 2018
This is the early release Pinot Noir, and it’s nearly all from Gibbston fruit. 20% in barrel, no new oak, then the rest on staves in stainless steel, all destemmed. Aromatic and floral with lovely red cherries and some fine herbal notes. Bright, juicy, fruity and textural on the palate with lovely purity and focus. Just a hint of reduction works really well here. So juicy, delicious and spicy with a twist of complexity. 91/100 ($25)