An amazing feat of organisational ingenuity brought worldwide wine trade, media, authorities and enthusiasts together along the Wellington waterfront – with 115 NZ producers and their best Pinot Noirs, for a 3 day celebration of NZ Pinot Noir – “the greatest Pinot Noir event on the planet”.
While the overall focus was on Turangawaewae – our grounding/standing/growing place – the 3 days concentrated on themes of Embrace / Explore / Evolve, giving plenty of scope for speakers and discussions. Such a treat to hear Dame Anne Salmond speak. Other favourites were writer Andrea Frost, Jo Burzynska’s presentation of Pinosthesia ( how sound shapes our impression of wine), Stephen Wong MW and Nick Mills. A mix of heartfelt and solid, science & art.
An international tasting of What Defines Greatness in a wine, was a deep dive into international perspectives – loved Kenichi Ohashi, and Mike Bennie’s wine selections, and why they chose them.
Each afternoon was set aside for NZ Pinot Noir tasting- we showed our 2013 and 2014 Waimanu Pinot Noirs, which were really well received, we were quite humbled by various comments from both international and NZ folk who sure do know their stuff.
And a great opportunity to have 3 of our wines poured during various culinary events throughout the programme – these being a brilliant opportunity to meet brand new and old friends.
The Boneline crew took part in the third annual Forage North Canterbury event this year – or “the longest day”. Also a hugely rewarding and diverse day.
The basic premise is 65 folk are split up into groups – each including a chef, a sommelier, and a local winery as guide and host. Each group has until 2pm to gather and plunder edible components from the geographical focus they have been nominated, then everyone converges with the bounty – which is then shared by the chefs, so that each chef is responsible for the creation of 1 course in what ended up being a 9 course seated meal. Meanwhile the somm takes care of the wine matching for their group’s chef’s creation. Sounds easy – but it’s more like culinary sudoko.
After a 7am start with briefing and breakfast at Black Estate we set out to plunder the neighbourhood with Chef Teresa Pert from Pegasus Bay Winery, her Sous chef Liam, and Sommelier Josie Phillips – with a focus on Fields & Vineyards. Folk in our group were game to try anything, super enthused – a German journalist, local blogger, a writer for Metro and Paperboy. First up we milked sheep and made fresh ricotta at Ainsling Quoy Farm, then came back to our home vineyards & winery to gather plums, citrus, herbs, horopito, kawakawa, flax seeds, dried mushrooms, garnish flowers and decorative willows, while Liam shot a rabbit! A quick stop at The Food Farm down the road to pick tomatoes, berries, dig potatoes, and back to Pegasus Bay winery to meet the other groups and see the haul. It was impressive in seafood, seashore flora & fauna, pigeons, and also included a feral billy goat which was best kept down wind.
While the chefs went wild in the kitchen – and that is behind the scenes part I would have most liked to see, as the results were seamless and perfectly timed – there was a North Canterbury Regional Wine tasting for everybody else to work through. By 7pm, first course of the seated dinner was coming out of the kitchen, last course at midnight – lots of speeches and fun through the evening.
Chef Teresa made an amazing dessert – Sheepy cheese and honeycomb ice cream, raspberries and stone fruits – perfect way to end the meal.
And our The Boneline Riverbone Sauvignon Blanc was matched with Medicinal tomato with rye and roadside weeds concocted by Chef Alex Davies – this was a really great match and dish – chewy rye in broth.
Photos by Dean MacKenzie
Held as the consumer event to party alongside Pinot Noir NZ – Pinot Palooza was a real blast – such a great chance to get around and try the full spectrum of what we in NZ are producing. Found some really exciting new wines and a lot of forever favourites. Paul and Gemma Goodege poured for this event, having huge fun and success – Waimanu Pinot Noir ramped up 3rd in the Consumer’s Choice list. Palooza pulled such an enthusiastic crowd, a really fun pinot party – where a lot of people spat!
Where was Winter? Apart from being bleak and miserable with short dark days, it really didn’t eventuate. A light snow in September was pretty for a day, but true Sou’West fury never happened. Our weather station recorded the driest Winter in the country – for the second year in a row! So we spent the winter months waiting…
And it all happened in Spring – which has to be the wettest ever on record here. In a usual year, the short few weeks in Spring is gentle lush emerald time in the valley calendar. And then it turns barren & baked and dry as a chip, the bleached out landscape – for late November through until the next Winter.
Today’s just turned December – Summer – and it’s pouring hard again – the valley’s green and flowering. In the vineyard we are mowing to keep inter-rows and headlands growth under control, and putting huge amounts of handwork into shoot thinning, toe-nailing, and tucking shoots safe within wires. In-between rains, we have suffered severe Nor’West gales hard on humans & vines –hence the importance of keeping up with tucking to avoid wind damage to shoots. We love the drying effects of these winds for disease prevention though.
And of course our vines have had a bit of hair root thinning, from the gravels we grow in grinding and twisting against them – in these massive recent earthquakes, centred not far North of our area. We did notice a positive influence in our Sauvignon Blanc – we think from the effect on the vine roots – after the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
Vines are looking healthy & happy – set up for a nice solid fruit set –and ready for the heat and dry, for a good strong flowering period over December.
Spring 2015 and just as we were finishing pruning on time and had pruned an extra 2 ha of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (that we had leased across the road), we were gifted an extra 5 ha of Pinot noir that the owners could not contend with. There was no time to cane prune the block as bud burst was upon us, so we ran a mechanical barrel pruner over it and cleaned up the spurs.
Bud burst happened at a normal time, with none of the early bud burst/ late frost, that plagued the vintage before, so we had a clean start to the season. While the frost fans were heard running on about 8 mornings in the lower valley floor, our property followed it’s usual pattern and we moved into spring without any damage.
Then the big drought situation that had been ongoing for 12 months, bit deeply and we had no rainfall of any substance for the rest of the year. Twice the river hit it’s low flow cut off point but small rainfalls in the foot hills boosted the flow enough to keep our irrigation going. December saw hot dry weather and good fruit set followed.
In the new year 2016 we received several good rain falls making January the wettest on record and set up prolific growth and humidity. Hideous amounts of work followed, trimming, spraying, leaf plucking, mowing and netting. Weekends of Saturdays and Sundays were worked in an effort to control and manage the work load and the extra 7 ha of vines. We also had to buy a new tractor and build, repair, borrow and modify all of the equipment to fit in the smaller row spacing in the lease block.
February saw a return to drought with the heavy rainfall being absorbed by the dry soil and the plant use, a good crop was filling out on the vines. The Pinot Noir had an absence of the usual heavy set that has to be removed and we powered on with the netting. To save on labour and time, we elected to just drape the netting over the vines and not clip it all up, and we just used vehicles to patrol the un-netted areas until we got there, and we did not bother to shoot at the birds to disturb them, this turned out to be effective bird control.
With beautiful ripening weather, the vines powered into ripeness and with accurate monitoring, we picked everything at it’s peak.
The new dream team in the winery, winemaker-Paul, assistant- Stefano and lab tech- Maura, under consultant Jeff, ensured fast, dedicated, same day processing. They really put in the hours! — and with a monster effort from our vineyard staff and an enjoyable picking crew we brought in one of our biggest and hopefully one of our best vintages. We even sold some of the surplus fruit we did not have tank space for in the winery.
A big crop from a big area, we pulled it off. I am not sure that we would want to work like this every year, no time for a swim at the beach, motor bike ride or fly fishing, but you have to make hay while the sun shines and the sun certainly shone on us this season.
A big thank you to all the staff because they made it possible. Enjoy the wine.
Despite predictions of an early harvest we started processing fruit just after Easter around a week later than recent years. Sauvignon blanc closely followed by Chardonnay were the first varieties in and made up most of the first third of harvest. We were very fortunate with the weather to be able to strategically move the picking crew around various blocks following a progression of ripening caused by variances in clone, microclimate and soil type. This was particular useful with our Sauvignon blanc as it allowed us to capture herbaceous characters early and more tropical ones later.
The pace of harvest picked up when the Pinot Noir finally started showing some intensity of flavour and again we were lucky to pick and chose clones/blocks to harvest on certain days. Initial tastings show a real spread in style with some parcels being very elegant, silky and intense and others more dark, robust and brooding.
Our Riesling was next, picked with hardly any leaves and golden in colour we treated this fruit extremely gently to minimise the pickup of grippy skin tannins created from one hell of a Mediterranean style sun tan!
Finally the vintage was wrapped in mid may with the harvest of the Bordeaux varieties, winter was in the air as the nights were creeping closer. Being able to leisurely go about picking these grapes in fantastic condition was a testament to one hell of a season.
Having a fantastic harvest crew meant that time and resources were available to keep parcels in individual batches (50 in all) which really allowed us to narrow in on what was currently working for us and what we can do differently.
We are extremely excited about the wines we have in the cellar, the challenge will be in ensuring we retaining the natural balance and allowing them to speak for themselves.
After a summer of drought, then post Christmas rain, drying out again, then more and lighter patches of rain – harvest started on 5th April, with various blocks of Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Riesling, and at this point we still have more Pinot Noir for Waimanu, Chardonnay for Barebone, Riesling, and the big Iridium reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah & Merlot to fully ripen. The next 3 weeks are going to be busy.
We are really happy with the fruit that has come in already, great flavour and condition – fruit the Vineyard crew should feel very proud to hand over to the Winery folk, who are enthusiastically putting in the care and long hours this fruit deserves.
We are so lucky to have Stefano Salvador and Maura Kinsella join us for vintage – Stefano’s winemaking skills were learnt in Italy, and Maura studied Biology in California. Stefano runs the cellar floor and keeps the fruit processing through, while Maura runs the lab, tracking fruit ripening and fermentation progress across the many varieties, clones, and resultant tanks and vats. Having such wonderful help makes Paul Goodege’s huge workload over vintage manageable just. It’s brilliant having such a happy and enthused small group making the winery pump this season – thank you Paul G, Stefano & Maura.
Leigh Love is our local expert on fossils and formations of the Waipara River –Leigh has incredible knowledge & appreciation of what lies hidden within the stratas and gravels, which he shares with others readily.
During eleven years fossicking along the river, Leigh has made notable academic discoveries – including the Australornis Lovei named after Leigh, which is one of the oldest flying seabirds, of the Paleocene era, about 58 million years old. It is a pivotal species in early avian evolution. He’s helped further the study of Waimanu – the ancient giant penguin, plesiosaur, mosasaur, megaladon, shark, and other prehistoric creatures. Leigh works closely with his colleagues at the Canterbury Museum, and enjoys sharing the scientific study of many of his finds with international experts.
The Boneline Cabernet Franc label features Leigh’s first find – the Waiparaconus, a conical tubeworm, over 50 million years old. Other labels all show Leigh’s fossil finds.
Leigh and Ruth live in Waipara with their wonderful family, all homeschooled. Besides teaching, and fossils, Leigh is an accomplished photographer and a builder.
The Boneline is most grateful to Leigh, for allowing us to use his wonderful discoveries on our wine labels, and for all the help & support he has given this project. Leigh’s involvement allows us to speak of these wines in relation to the geology and gravels of ancient creatures which the vine roots now grow through.
Trained and tutored in Hawkes Bay, lived in and enjoyed several winegrowing regions around the world. New challenges and desire for a more intimate winegrowing experience enticed him, his wife Gemma and the cat Petal (which he didn’t name) to Waipara and The Boneline. Other than winemaking he loves cooking, home brewing and surfing with good mates!
Early December flowering raced through with hot dry days and warm over night temperatures and a good fertilisation occurred with a good balanced crop with a lot of “hen and Chicken”the big berry / little berry bunch structure that gives good intense flavour. Even set with little variation within the bunches made for an attractive looking crop. The drought continued into the New Year with the river flow hitting its low flow cut off point twice but each time it rained that evening and the river flow was restored by the next morning. The drought was finally broken on the 3rd of January with 50 mm of rain followed by 10 mm on the 16th and 35 mm on the 20th. So by maintaining good early soil moisture levels and with beneficial rainfall, good growth has occurred to support our balanced crop.
Following on from its recent success at the Best Awards – winning Gold Pins for design, The Boneline 2014 Waimanu Pinot Noir has just been awarded gold at the 2015 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
We’ll drink to that…
The Boneline recently won gold at the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Awards — the annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product and interactive design. Gold pins were awarded for both packaging and small scale identity and silver for design craft (photography). Judges Comments — Packaging: Dark and mysterious – this wine feels like a new discovery and there is no doubt at all that the design, along with the product, comes from this land. Judges Comments — Identity: Resourceful and beautiful. A clear single idea that is as rich and layered as the liquid inside the bottles.
We had a normal start for bud burst, ( in the 1st week of October) with none of the early bud break / late frost combination that affected the previous vintage. We went straight into good weather, left winter well behind, and launched into a hot dry spring. Although we heard the frost fans and helicopters performing in the lower valley on at least 6 mornings, our lowest temperature was + .7 degrees Celsius and we were 1.7 degrees away from the point that frost damage occurs. We moved into a good even bud break, with lots of flowers set and ready to go. The El Niño conditions and the drought that had effected the later half of the last vintage had continued over the winter and into spring while we waited for the drought to break.