New Zealand organic Pinot Noir is among the finest in the world. So in the lead-up to #pinotnoirday we have asked organic winegrowers from each of the regions to share their insights and experiences growing and making this notoriously challenging variety.
HAWKE'S BAY with Rod McDonald @teawangawines
We’ve made some of the best Pinot Noir we’ve ever made this year. To be honest I’m a little surprised about that as we had to deal with early season hail and then a really dry hot year. Pinot Noir usually does it’s best in Hawke’s Bay in it’s cooler vintages.
The site we’ve chosen to grow Pinot Noir is cooler in the HB context, an site inland with a little altitude and planted on an old river terrace.
The vineyard had been planted for seven years before starting organic conversion 7 years ago this year…..so farmed as long organic as it was conventional.
We’ve still got a long way to go to have everything as we’d like it, but there’s no doubt that we’re seeing the impact of organic growing in our wines. There’s a direct effect I think, of having thicker skins and different challenges/techniques for extracting juice with finesse and extracting colour and flavour without over extracting harder tannins in the reds. There’s an impact on aroma and flavour profile that shows up in the wines as an attractive scented, complex herbal character and chalkiness to the whites on and a graininess or texture to the reds that I love. Pinot Noir tends to be more savoury and more structured.
What are the most commonly asked questions? Well we get asked about the moon and cow horns, a lot…and we’re not even biodynamic?! My wardrobe also gets a mention everytime I head out in my birkenstocks or corduroy shorts….but I love corduroy ! But you were probably asking about the wine?
We get asked a lot about why we try and grow Pinot up here, because it’s so far North and too hot. I’ve been to Burgundy in the summer and it’s bloody hot there too! Growing Pinot Noir here is more about how cold it is at night at critical times during the season. With good site selection and a vineyard management plan that balances some of the natural obstacles of growing here, you can do a great job. I suspect that being an organic grower tunes us in more with a variety like Pinot Noir and gives us more levers to pull and manage our environmental challenges.