1978 and the New Zealand fine wine industry was almost non existent. We (Tim and I) were fresh from the “back to the land” movement of the late sixties. We wanted to make beautiful wine. We figured Tim’s masters in Animal Behaviour along with my unimpressive journalism career would be beneficial. Wrong. However we did have youth (temporary), self belief (unwarranted) and friends. At one stage we had four mortgages and three jobs each. The old house at Neudorf had electricity in two rooms, an outside long drop, an inefficient wood stove and no hot water. I look back with no regrets.
Great wines have a basis of fruit concentration, length and sense of place – characters which can be formed only in the vineyard. The team here at Neudorf believe their primary task is to grow grapes which express the site, to take the essence of that fruit and then preserve it as wine. On the way they may fine tune the balance and complexity in a number of ways but the aim is always to allow the site to speak.
In working this close to nature there will sometimes be heartache and occasionally celebration; each year there is new promise, but always there is the excitement of discovery.
In the winery we concentrate on texture, balance and for certain wines, complexity. Finesse is always a priority. Sauvignon Blanc has such generous fruit character we are happy to trade some of this to expose the wine’s texture and vinosity. A little barrel ferment adds complexity and gives weight and mouthfeel. Our Chardonnay is largely proscribed by the terroir and the high extract – high acid Mendoza clone. The texture and complexity of long barrel-stirred lees contact helps to balance this taut package.
The range of Pinot clones on the Moutere site produces a palate of complex fruit flavours in the savoury dark-fruit spectrum. We make sure the natural charm of the fruit is in balance with the tannins. Pinot Gris is treated to the same low cropping regime as its darker cousin, with the Brightwater grapes handled to reinforce their vibrant primary fruit flavours and the Moutere grapes partially barrel fermented to support their characteristic density and texture. Riesling is always our last crop to pick and sometimes runs into the less clement weather of winter. The Moutere wine has strong fruit – acid minerality and is fermented to a balanced high fruit sugar-acid lime blossom opulence. The Brightwater wine on the other hand is a taut dry Riesling balanced with powerful ripe citrus blossom fruit