And that is where small boutique producers have to deal with a double edged sword; they can manage their vineyards more intensely but they don’t always have the resource to harvest and process a lot of fruit very quickly.
Pat Stowe, the owner of Rimu Grove Wines, comes from a science background and this has made him a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making wine. He isn’t happy to harvest fruit based just on what the testing equipments says, he also trusts his palate and instincts, only harvesting when the grapes have great flavour as well as being technically ripe.
As with other wineries this year’s harvest was early so he was able to bring in about 90% of his fruit in pristine condition, the rest stayed on the vines or was dropped on the grass – quality was not compromised for quantity.
One of the things I like about Pat is his outright enthusiasm for producing great wine. When we talked about the harvest his eyes lit up as he told me he had some of the best fruit ever for some varieties, particularly chardonnay and pinot gris. 2010 was the stunning year for pinot noir and while this season was not as good he rates it up there with the 2007 and 2008 vintages and I think they were pretty good.
Rimu Grove was one of the earliest in the region to plant pinot gris vines (1999) and that means these more established vines produce delightfully intense wine with great structure and, along with a superb sloping vineyard aspect and Pat’s passion, is one of the reasons Rimu Grove pinot gris has a bit of a cult following around New Zealand. The same applies to their chardonnay; even though this variety has been off the fashion list in recent years there is still a strong market for lovers of the variety and Rimu Grove’s delightfully well balanced version is as popular as ever.
I think you need to be just a little unbalanced to grow and produce pinot noir as she can be a very sulky child to deal with but when handled with patience and care she blossoms into something very special. Add a little gentle aging before release and his pinots turn into very classy little ladies that love being paired with fine food. While some may think Pat is a little obsessed with his pinot I think he has every reason to be. The hard work he puts into making this wine both in the vineyard and the winery is evident in the finished product.
Drop in to Rimu Grove’s new cellar door on Bronte Road after about 1pm in the winter and check out their current releases.
I have been drinking
Neudorf Vineyards 2010 Moutere Pinot Gris - RRP $29In two words – multi-layered purity. With the aromas of delicate minerality and soft creamy pear tones that belie the intensity of the flavours this wine delivers more each time you taste it. The opulent silky texture has a powdery mineral backbone holding delightfully warm pip fruit and quince spice flavours together. A wonderfully long finish makes you just want more. Another five star wine from a classic producer.
Gisselbrecht Tradition 2008 Pinot Gris – $21.99
From Alsace this is a different beast compared to the Neudorf. Big punchy flavours packed with ripe pear and spiced honey characters make it perfect with spicy food. There is nothing pure or elegant about this but the age has added complexity and makes for great drinking.